Spider bites – different types, symptoms and risk factors

Spider bites types and symptoms

It is known fact that the majority of the 3.000 spiders in the United States of America are not poisonous [1]. Also it is known that the most spiders bite but they have fangs which are too small or weak to puncture our skin. You should know that the spider bite looks like any other bug bite – an inflamed, red, sometimes painful or itchy bump on our skin – and it can go unnoticed. Harmless spider bites are not producing any other symptoms. The spiders that do manage to bite through your skin and insert toxic venom, can cause serious complications for our health. It is very easy to identify a spider bite if you saw that the spider has bitten you, but also there are some cases when you will not notice the wound until hours have passed. You should look for things such as skin damage, a red welt, swelling and any troubling symptoms that will accompany the bite. Also there are other possible symptoms which can accompany the spider bite such as [2]

  • High blood pressure
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Rashes
  • Anxiety or restlessness
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sweating
  • Blister that is red or purple in color
  • Muscle pain or cramping
  • Pain around the area of the bite
  • Itching or rash

There are many cases when spider bites are taking longer period to heal compared to other insect bites. Also these types of bites can affect skin tissues. It is very important to keep the bite clean because this will help you to reduce the risk of infection.

Spider bites types and symptoms

Black widow spider bites

Here are signs and symptoms of black widow spider bite [3]:

  • Sweating: When this type of spider bites you, then excessive sweating can happen.
  • Pain: Typically pain is beginning with an hour of being bitten and the pain is generally happening around the bite mark but also it can spread from the bite side into your chest, back or abdomen.
  • Cramping: Abdominal rigidity or cramping can be so severe and this in some cases is mistaken for a ruptured appendix or appendicitis.

The prompt treatment is the best, especially for older adults and children. There are some cases when healthcare professionals will prescribe antivenin to remove the venom from the human body.

Black widow habitat: This type of spider can be found throughout the United States of America but more so in the southwestern states. Black widows prefer to live in:

  • Woodpiles
  • Unused pots and gardening equipment
  • Garages
  • Sheds

Hobo spider bites: This is a common spider in Pacific Northwest. These spiders sit up high on long legs and they run fast. When this spider bites you, then it can be unnoticeable first, but it will cause numbness and pain within fifteen minutes. After 60 minutes, the site will start to turn red. In 8 hours, it will become swollen and hardened. After 24 – 26 hours, the wound can discharge fluids and it will eventually turn black.

Brown recluse spider bites

The pain that is associated with this type of spider bite typically increases during the first 8 hours after the bite. You can also have body aches, chills and fever. This bite usually will heal on its own in a period of one week. There a minor number of cases, when the skin at the center of the bite can become dark purple or blue and it will evolve into a deep open sore (ulcer) which enlarges as the surrounding skin die. This ulcer will stop growing within ten days after the bite but the full healing can take months. There are some rare cases when the brown recluse bite can cause [4]:

  • Kidney failure
  • Blood in urine
  • Jaundice
  • Coma or seizures

There is no antidote for the bite of brown recluse spider but it is very important its treatment because when you keep the area clean, then it will encourage faster healing.

Brown recluse habitat: These types of spiders are most commonly found in the southern Midwest and in limited areas of the South. These types of spiders have this name because they like to hide away in undisturbed areas. Brown recluse mostly prefer to live indoors, in places such as

  • In rarely used cupboards
  • Behind bookshelves and dressers
  • The clutter of basement or attics

When they are outside, then they seek out dark and quit spots such as in tree stumps or under rocks. There are very rare cases when the bite from a black widow or brown recluse can be deadly, particularly it is happening in children. [2,6]


[1] Louisiana Office of Public Health – Infectious Disease Epidemiology Section. Spider bites. 2007. Retrieved from ldh.la.gov/assets/oph/Center-PHCH/Center-CH/infectious-epi/EpiManual/SpiderBitesManual.pdf

[2] Rahmani F, Khojasteh SMB, Bakhtavar HE, et al. Poisonous spiders: Bites, symptoms, and treatment; an educational review. Emergency. 2014 Spring;2(2):54–8.

[3] Sulaj Z, Vyshka G, Gashi A. Analysis of cases caused by acute spider bite. Journal of Acute Disease. 2015;4(3):255-8.

[4] Anoka IA, Robb EL, Baker MB. Brown recluse spider toxicity. In Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing. 2020.

[5] Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Children at greater risk for complications from brown recluse spider bites. Science Daily. 2017. Retrieved from sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170420090218.htm>.


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