Black Widow Spider Bite – Symptoms, Treatment, Pictures


The black widow spider is possibly the most dangerous and the most well-known, among the 30,000 species of spiders occurring on earth. People generally tend to lay the blame of various symptoms like skin rashes or itching, etc. on spider bites. It may however be noted that spider bites are normally not the cause of such abnormalities, due to the fact that spiders rarely bite humans and that certain kinds of spiders do not have the ability to puncture the human skin.

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Black  Widow spider facts

The black widow spider is quite small in size measuring a full grown length of about half an inch. It gets its name from the incorrect belief that the female species of the black widow spider kills the male post mating. Along with other kinds of spiders, the black widow spider is mostly found in the southern states of America, but can also occur in other parts of the country. There are five species of black widow spiders that occur in the US, with the most common being the northern black widow and the southern black widow.

One can identify the northern black widow with the characteristic two crosswire lines that occur on the lower area of the abdomen along with a set of reddish marks on its back and down the middle. It may be brownish in color with red legs. Also, the markings can occasionally be either whitish or yellowish in color.

The southern black widow has a black and shiny rounded abdomen featuring a distinct hourglass-like mark on the belly.

Black widow spiders are normally active in the night as they are nocturnal creatures. They mostly hide in dark corners and cracks and tend to avoid human dwellings. However, they can be found in outhouses and garages. Only the female species cause black widow spider bites, which primarily occur when they are bothered or are guarding the eggs.

Black Widow Spider Bite Symptoms

  • A black widow spider bite leads to the secretion of a protein venom which affects the victim’s nervous system. The poison is believed to be one of the most potent toxins released by an insect. Some victims may be mildly affected by the venom, while others may elicit severe symptoms of a black widow spider bite.
  • A black widow spider bite will normally lead to acute pain in the affected area. Localized reactions may or may not occur. A majority of the symptoms begin twenty minutes to an hour after the black widow spider bite.
  • A black widow spider bite will usually affect the large muscles found in the back and the shoulders, resulting in extreme pain
  • Pain in the abdomen, tremors, weakness and local or generalized muscle cramps of high severity may make an appearance after the first symptoms of local pain
  • Extreme cases of black widow spider bites may cause further symptoms like pain in the chest, nausea, fainting, breathing difficulties, dizziness and vomiting.
  • The rate of heartbeats as well as the blood pressure may become elevated. Increase in the blood pressure is believed to be one of the major complications of a black widow spider bite.
  • The reactions resulting from a black widow spider bite and their severity levels are usually dependant on the physical well being of a victim and his/her age. Children and older adults are at an increased vulnerability to develop severe symptoms of a black widow spider bite. Additionally, even though black widow spider bites do not cause deaths, elders and children are at greater risk to developing life threatening reactions.

Treatment of black widow spider bite

  • People who are sure that they have experienced a black widow spider bite need to immediately visit a doctor for treatment. It may be noted that normal health care providers may not have the necessary equipment to deal with black widow spider bites. Hence, affected individuals must seek emergency care at a hospital.

If a person is not sure about the kind of spider bite, then he/she may follow the below listed first aid steps before visiting a doctor:

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  • Thoroughly washing the affected site with soap and water
  • Keeping the affected area in an elevated stance. If the bite occurs in an arm or leg, then one can tie a bandage above that area. However, it should not be too tight so as to prevent the circulation of blood.
  • Painkillers can ease the pain. Aspirin should not be given to children. Applying ice packs on the affected site can also provide relief

Emergency care at the hospital involves:

  • Administration of antivenin to undo the effects of the black widow spider bite venom. Such antivenin can cause serious allergic reactions and hence a doctor will first test for allergies.
  • Muscle pain can be alleviated with the administration of muscle relaxant injections.
  • Intense pain can be reduced with the intake of prescription pain killer drugs

Black Widow Spider Bite Pictures

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