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Spider Bite Pictures, Symptoms, and Treatments

Dr. Suresh Kumar lives in India and enjoys writing about medical topics.

The two-pronged bite mark of a black widow spider. This bite took two weeks to heal, during which the victim experienced nausea.

The two-pronged bite mark of a black widow spider. This bite took two weeks to heal, during which the victim experienced nausea.

Spider Bites: Pictures and Information

If you think you may have been bitten by a spider, chances are you are not in serious danger. In most cases, your wound can be treated with basic first aid.1

In fact, if you didn't actually see the spider bite you, that bump, bite, rash, or redness you're experiencing could be due to a wide range of things—including other types of bug bites, pimples, cysts, skin infections, or MRSA.

Even a medical professional may not be certain what bit you unless you happened to catch the offending bug or spider, or unless the bite is producing distinctive symptoms.

Though most spiders are technically poisonous, in the vast majority of cases, their fangs are too small to cause humans much trouble. Typically, the only result of a spider bite is an itchy, red wound that goes away in about a week.

In North America, there are only two medically significant spiders. These are the brown recluse and the black widow.

Symptoms of Black Widow and Brown Recluse Bites

SpiderPhysical CharacteristicsBite SymptomsGeographical Location

Brown Recluse

Brown spider with six eyes and violin shape on back.

A red ring forms around a white wound (looks like a target or bullet). A blister develops on the skin surrounded by red.

South Central and Southern U.S.

Black Widow

Plump black spider with red hourglass figure on underside of abdomen.

Two puncture marks, spreading muscle cramping and pain, sweating, muscle rigidity.

Warm Southern and Western States

What to Do

According to HealthLine, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms in the above table, you should:2

  • Wash wound with soap and cold water
  • Wrap ice in a washcloth and apply to wound for 10 minutes, remove for 10 minutes, and repeat.
  • Go to the ER or get a doctor or a medical professional's help.

If You Can, Take a Photo of What Bit You

When you go to the doctor, you will need to give as much information as possible about the bite, your symptoms, and what you saw bite you (if you saw it). If possible, and if you can do so safely, try to catch the spider or take a photo of it.

First Aid for Other Types of Spider Bites

The vast majority of bites of any kind (spider or not), can be treated with basic first aid:

  • Wash the area with soap and water.
  • Put a cold compress or ice pack on the area (protecting the skin from extreme cold) for about 10 minutes at a time to reduce swelling.
  • If there is itching, you can apply calamine lotion (an anti-histamine), or a paste of baking soda and water several times a day.
  • Elevate the part of your body that is affected by the bite.
  • Over-the-counter pain killers, like acetaminophen (Tylenol), may be necessary to relieve the pain.
  • Keep the wound clean and apply antibiotic ointment.
  • Let any blisters pop on their own.

When to See a Doctor or Get Medical Help

See a doctor if you are experiencing:

  • Hives
  • Fever
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling of face, lips, or throat
  • Breathing problems
  • Shock
  • If the wound gets continually worse or spreads after applying basic first aid

Could It Be a Skin Infection?

Did you see the spider or bug bite you? If not, it's possible that it could be a skin infection. Follow the first aid tips above, and if the problem seems to be getting worse after 2-3 days, you should get professional help.

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What NOT to Do When Bitten

  • Do not touch or massage the bitten area. If the spider was venomous, you should leave it alone in order to avoid spreading the venom.
  • Do not engage in any physical activities after being bitten.
  • Avoid heating pads. In the event that the spider emitted necrotic venom, the heat may facilitate the process of necrosis (dead skin tissue).
  • Avoid steroid creams.
  • Sucking out the venom is not recommended.

What a Doctor Will Do

There is no one treatment for all spider bites—it all depends upon the type of spider and the severity of the bite. The doctor will begin by evaluating your symptoms. If there are signs of tachycardia, cardiac drugs may be given. Other medications may also be given to treat necrosis (dead skin tissue).

Your doctor may recommend a tetanus booster shot if you haven't had one in the last five years. You may need antibiotics if the bite becomes infected.

Serious cases may require medical evaluation. In some instances, patients may be closely monitored at the hospital.

In rare cases, surgery may be needed, especially if necrosis is identified on the spider bite. Surgical evaluation is also necessary if the presenting symptoms are worsening.

Brown Recluse Spider

Brown Recluse Spider

More About Brown Recluse Spiders

If you have:

  • A red ring that forms around a white wound that looks like a bullet or a target
  • A blister that has developed on the skin

You may have been bitten by a brown recluse.3 It's possible you won't feel anything when it bites.

Where They Live

Typically, these spiders live in South Central and Southern U.S. states (including Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama, and parts of Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska).

If you don't live in these areas, it's highly unlikely this is what bit you. These spiders also only attack if they are disturbed. They do not aggressively attack humans.

What They Look Like

These spiders are brown, slightly larger than a quarter, and have a distinctive marking on their back that looks like a violin, or fiddle. This can be easily misidentified, however. If you happen to see or catch the spider, the best way to identify it is by looking at its eyes. These spiders only have 6 eyes, instead of the usual 8.

What Happens When They Bite?

People will react differently to the venom. In 90 percent of cases, bites heal without medical attention and will not scar. You will see a small red mark that will heal soon.

For those who are more sensitive, a small blister may appear, the skin may become hard, and it may become blue-grey surrounded by red. It could turn into an open wound. Victims could also experience chills, fever, or headaches.

If You've Been Bitten:

  • Wash the area of the bite with soap and water
  • Put a cold compress on for 10 minutes. Remove for 10 minutes, then repeat.
  • After, go immediately to the emergency room. If possible, bring either the spider or a picture of it to help identify it.
Black Widow Spider // CC BY 3.0

Black Widow Spider // CC BY 3.0

More About Black Widow Spiders

If you have:

  • Two puncture wounds on the skin that cause pain and burning
  • Spreading cramping and muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Chills, fever, nausea, or vomiting
  • Severe belly, back, or chest pain

Then you may have been bitten by a black widow.

Where Do They Live?

Black widows are mostly found in warm Southern and Western states. They like to live in piles of leaves, woodpiles, or in the attic. Like the brown recluse, they only attack if they feel threatened.

What Do They Look Like?

Only female black widows are dangerous to humans. They are plump and black, roughly the size of a quarter, with a red hourglass shape on the underside of their bellies, so check the spider if you caught it or saw it.

If You've Been Bitten:

  • Clean area with soap and cold water (do not massage the tissue to prevent venom spread)
  • Remain calm
  • Do not apply a tourniquet
  • Wrap ice in towel and apply to the wound for 10 minutes, remove for 10 minutes, then repeat
  • Get medical help immediately

These bites are rarely fatal. Only the very young, the elderly, or people with weakened immune systems are at risk of fatal reactions.4

Why Spiders Bite

While some spiders are aggressive, most spiders tend to hide and prefer dark and isolated places. Spiders often bite in self-defense, when they sense harm from another living creature. People are bitten because we may have harmed them unknowingly.

Most bites by spiders in the United States will only cause an itchy red spot that clears up in a few days. That's because most spider fangs, or chelicera, are too short to completely penetrate human skin. While some bites are almost painless, others can feel like a bee sting.

One of the main concerns about a spider bite is the potential effects of the venom. As mentioned, some dangerous species of spiders can inflict little to no pain upon biting, and so they, therefore, can go unnoticed. But some spider bites are dangerous. So identifying the type of spider and seeking treatment is important.

You can help prevent spider bites by shaking out boots, gloves, blankets, and other clothing before using them, especially if they've been in storage. Similarly, when entering storage areas, make a lot of noise to scare spiders away. If you have a spider problem, you can also seek professional help.5

Other Common Spiders That Bite

  • Hobo spiders: These large brown spiders are common in the Pacific Northwestern U.S. Symptoms of their bites are similar to those of a brown recluse. Seek medical attention to hasten the healing process.
  • Tarantulas: Common to the warm Southwestern U.S., the bite of these big, hairy spiders feels like a painful bee sting. Seek medical attention to monitor heart rate and breathing, as the bite can make breathing difficult.
  • Wolf Spiders: Found in all areas of the U.S. these spiders actually stalk and can be aggressive. Their bite can tear the skin and cause pain, redness, and swelling. They have two eyes in front that are much bigger than their other 6.

More Dangerous Spiders

Here are some more dangerous spiders that are found world-wide. Bites from these kinds of spiders in North America are extremely rare.

  • Redback spiders
  • Brazilian wandering spiders
  • Tree-dwelling funnel-web spiders

A bite from one of these spiders can produce intense pain and other symptoms such as chills, fever, nausea, vomiting, and severe abdominal pain.

Other serious cases of manifestations are leg cramps, body aches, sweating, exhaustion, tachycardia, dizziness, and shortness of breath, confusion, and even unconsciousness. A visit to the emergency room is a must if the bite victim experiences any of these symptoms.

The world's most potentially dangerous spiders, when they bite people, are the Sydney funnel-web spiders and Brazilian wandering spiders.

These spiders may be more dangerous than black widows because their fangs are longer and they can inject more venom deeper into the skin.

Who Is Most at Risk?

Remember that children, the elderly, and those with depressed immune systems are the most likely to have severe reactions to spider bites of any kind. If you or the person you care for falls into one of these groups, you should seek medical attention.6

References

  1. Mayo Clinic Staff. "Spider Bites." May 14, 2016. MayoClinic. Accessed April 6, 2017.
  2. Story, Colleen M. (medically reviewed by Debra Sullivan, PhD, MSN, CNE, COI). "How to Identify and Treat Spider Bites." October 20, 2016. Healthline. Accessed April 6, 2017.
  3. Reviewed by Neha Pathak, MD. "Brown Recluse Spiders: What to Know." January 3, 2017. WebMD. Accessed April 6, 2017.
  4. "Black Widow Spider Bite - Topic Overview." November 20, 2015. WebMD. Accessed April 6, 2017.
  5. Esposito, Lisa. "How to Detect and Treat Spider Bites." <http://health.usnews.com/wellness/articles/2016-07-08/how-to-detect-and-treat-spider-bites>. July 8, 2016. U.S. News & World Report. Accessed April 6, 2017.
  6. "Insect Bites and Stings and Spider Bites - Topic Overview." August 21, 2015. WebMD. Accessed April 6, 2017.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Comments

Amir Muhammad on April 13, 2020:

Ingormative article i like this

Nina McCutcheon on January 13, 2020:

Make sure you put Diametric Earth, in-wall holes and along lower walls along with frames, Windows, rugs. It kills every insect, spider in House and outside.

james d sweeney on November 24, 2018:

I have been bitten twice in one month.1st cleared in 1 week. 2. I am having issues with. been three weeks, swelling,puss and blood. it has been worse. pain swelling, head aches, fever. now it is the size of a quarter deeper in the body. It leaking especially when I try to get more out of it. I know it needs lanced. I don't have ins. emergency room?

Lisa on September 16, 2018:

My husband gets heat rash that's not a problem. He is starting to get hives on his back shoulder blades. Not sure why ? He said they itch terribly. We have a brand new home and new furniture. Any suggestions what we can do or what is causing this hanis issue.

Doug C. Prouty on September 02, 2018:

My girlfriend son is 29 and had been bitten by a spider. Maybe brown recluse. Red and his left arm don't want to function and numb. He is down in Texas.

Suzanne on October 17, 2017:

I have a bite but it's a dark red and swollen

Trish on September 10, 2017:

I believe my husband was bit on the foot by a spider. I have seen atleast 3 in my house in the last week two of them in the last 2 days. It is red with a little blister in it and all swollen. He is in alot of pain. It doesn't itch and he doesnt have any other side affects besides what I have mentioned. We are keeping it elevated, using cold rice bags and antibiotic ointment on it. Also giving him motrin for the pain. I have to see the doctor tomorrow who is also my husbands doctor so we are going to have him look at it. I bought some sticky spider (insect) traps to put around the baseboards in the rooms we spend the most time in.

Stepbanie on September 02, 2017:

How do I treat a spider bite? My husband has 3 bites on his arm

Rebecca Ruby on August 28, 2017:

I keep getting bite by a brazillan spider

Ana on August 28, 2017:

I got bit on my arm 3 times it's painful and very itchy ..looks like the second picture but my skin is hard on the bitten area.. I also got bit on my leg!

maria on August 19, 2017:

just got bit cleaning the garage, 2 feet from me i saw a big spider , the size of a silver dollar . it was a deep green, it looked like a garden spider, but i have never seen one that big. it took a bit to kill him in such a panic state of mind. curled up and dead he was still the size of a half dollar. well anyway my foot swelled the bit was an inch below my pinky toe on the side of my foot. i couldnt walk or put my foot down, i got hives around my neck and the inside of my forearms. its been 3 days much better still red and swollen but i can walk.

Dianne on August 17, 2017:

Got bitten and didn't feel the bite.But swelling,itching .Looks like the third picture.

Sarah forbes on August 16, 2017:

I have noticed everal sites and never saw anything like them but I am nauseous , diarrhea etc.

Any idea's

Sakinea barnett on August 15, 2017:

I have recently got bitten people that sees it say it's a spider bite it's red and a little swollen but it has one bite Mark not two it hurts I didn't see what bit me it happened there days ago but it's swelling now it's doesn't have a ring around it nor turning back my question is should I be concerned because I've never been bitten by anything before so I don't know what bites looks like?

Dylan on August 12, 2017:

Was bitten yesterday (8/11) while sleeping; two puncture marks on my right foot, near the ankle. I went to the ER when the pain in that area increased, and I had cramping in my right calf and chest as well as increased sweating. I could only guess that it was a black widow that bit me, since after looking at the various types of spider bites that was the closest that I could identify. However because the doctor was unable to deduce whether or not it was a black widow, he didn't give me any antivenom. Now today (8/12, 4 pm Central Time), it has gotten down in swelling and the cramps are limited to mild cramping in right calf and right arm (where I gotten a shot-most likely a tetanus shot), but the bite mark and the area of the shot are now deep blue/purple. I've been bitten by a wolf spider once but it did not look like this; I have severe hemophilia type A, so I'm not sure if I'm in a critical situation or not.

Brooke on August 11, 2017:

My son got bit by i believe a spider the redness where he got bit is the size of a softball all swollen and warm cant see any puncture marks but it continues to get bigger and spread any ideas as to what bit him

Douglas on August 10, 2017:

Bitten by a small black spider with no markings with a shiny body causing a Swelling knot on the back of my head. And it's getting bigger.

Kelly hellinger on August 07, 2017:

Was outside pulling weeds now I have several black dots with a red ring around them and don't have any idea what they could be don't really itch bad but I am concerned never have seen any thing like these before

Post comment

jkitty85 on August 02, 2017:

Leyland-did you ever find out what it was? I found a similar irritation on my son's arm last night and it got my attention because of the size and the dark pink ring around the edge. Was about the size of a silver dollar.....

Winona on August 02, 2017:

I got bit in the night when I was sleeping don't knw if it was a spider or mosquito its big n red been 2 days not like a rash

I have no idea

Barbara Hair on July 30, 2017:

My boyfriend got bit by a brown recluse spider. Could or would it be okay to use Clindimyacin or Keeflex? Antibiotics?

Leyland Marcus on July 26, 2017:

I got bit by (what I believe to be) a spider on the back side of my knee and up the thigh 2 inches, it looks like the second picture from the bottom (of the ones above two or three paragraphs) and I think I was sleeping whilst it happened, texture of a rash, not painful, not itchy, not sure what it is. I did later find a spider in my room beside my bed, I killed it to fast to get a good look but it looked like a black house spider. Any clues anyone?

Andrea Osborne on July 21, 2017:

I have a large bite on my chest and I'm not sure if it's a spider bite or a large mosquito bite and I'm terrified of spiders so just ready this was hard

mike on July 20, 2017:

my wife got bit by a spider and we can't identify the bite

Brenda Jones on July 20, 2017:

I have so many spiders on my pool patio so yesterday there was this really ugly one chasing me,via scared to death of spiders so I got a broom and killed it but it was peggie and baby spiders were everywhere , and one bit me on my small finger within an hour after being bit my whole left hand was in so much pain,I almost went to Yue hospital then later on I started getting really sick to my stomach

Today still have little pain but nothing like yesterday Thank God.I will say this one thing that researchers & Doctors do not have all the answers to bug bites, because a lot of people like myself to do report them ( Spider bites, Bug Bites), Because I know for a fact that I was bitten by a spider not a Black Widow or Brown Recluse but a spider and I had some pretty awful side effects, so God help anybody that does get bitten by a really Bad Spider. One more thing this site is not for comments about whom is going to become President of the USA

Grow up, we have sites for stuff like that Dr's & others do not have the time to read ass nine questions. Have a great day..Hope all find the answers your looking for..

Nick on July 20, 2017:

So I Felt A Bite The Other Day, And It Felt Like A Pin-Prick Grazed My Hand And Sliced It A Little. I've Been Experiencing Nausea, Vomiting, Rapid Pulse, And For The First Day Itching, But I Didn't Find A Spider. What Could It Be?

Joshua on July 09, 2017:

So my newfew got bite by a spider and it swelled to about the size of a quarter wide and he says it itchy but if he touch it a certain way it brings him pain. What do you have to say??

DeWayne on July 06, 2017:

I think I was bitten by a small spider, it was outside, dark, never saw any spider.

It felt hot at first, then felt like a needle barely pricked me. I have swelling and itching still after two days.

What type of spider could this be?

Becky Scourfield on July 03, 2017:

My sister has just been bitten by an insect, it is on her hand and has swollen up quite significantly and is realising a white liquid. What should we do??

Ashley Lynn Congram* on July 01, 2017:

This spider is kind of like half brown reculis spider but this one is different because it has the brown recluse legs and the face was red and also the fangs to and also it burns???

A Bathroom-Spider bit a Bar-Bee (not a Bar-Fly) on July 01, 2017:

I have both recluse and bwidow symptoms..

Amber on June 29, 2017:

Thank you, Doctor, for your excellent information...I found it very thorough, informative and helpful, and consulted with a nurse who said it was the best she's seen on spider bites.

Lola M on June 27, 2017:

Thank you for the informative & reassuring article.

Mel on June 22, 2017: