10 signs you have a spider bite — and what to do if you have one

Wikimedia CommonsBrown recluse spider bites have especially severe symptoms.
  • There are more than 40,000 different types of spiders in the world.
  • Itching, redness, and swelling are among the most common signs of a spider bite.
  • Spider bites should be cleaned with warm water and mild soap promptly to avoid infection.
  • In the case you’ve been bitten by a poisonous spider, visit the doctor immediately.

Even if you can’t see them, spiders are everywhere. The eight-legged arachnids can survive in almost any habitat and climate. At some point or another, you may encounter one of these creatures in your home or out in the wild. After all, the US National Library of Medicine reports that there are more than 40,000 kinds of spiders worldwide. Although spiders are generally afraid of humans, it’s not uncommon for the web-spinners to bite if they feel threatened.

The severity of your bite wound will vary depending on what type of spider bit you. Some spider bites are harmless, while others not so much. You will likely know right away if you have been bitten by a poisonous spider like a brown recluse spider or the infamous black widow spider. The bite and the surrounding area will be painful and will continue to feel worse with time.

This is just one of the signs of a poisonous spider bite. If you’ve been bitten by a spider and are experiencing breathing issues, stomach cramps, or pain, seek medical help right away, according to the Mayo Clinic. You should always get medical attention if you think you have a poisonous spider caused the bite.

But, for the most part, you won’t need to take a trip to the doctor for your spider bite unless you have any of the below symptoms. If you have a spider bite that’s not so bad, make sure to clean it out with warm water and mild soap. Once it’s been washed out, put a dab or two of antibiotic ointment on the bite and it should clear up within a few days. The Mayo Clinic also recommends elevating the area of your body where the bite is.

Here are the 10 signs of a spider bite.


You have pain near the bite.

Wikimedia CommonsA brown recluse spider bite will cause severe pain around the bite.

This is one of the top signs that you have a poisonous spider bite. Pain from a black widow spider bite usually shows up about 60 minutes after the initial bite. The pain can make its way from the wound to your abdomen, back, or chest, according to the Mayo Clinic. A brown recluse spider bite will also bring about pain, but it’s a gradual process that usually takes about eight hours to rear its horns. Not all pain is harmful, though. A wolf spider bite will cause pain but is not toxic.

Over-the-counter pain relieving medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen can also bring relief, according to the Mayo Clinic. Talk to your doctor before treating the wound.


You can’t stop sweating.

ShutterstockSweating is a common symptom of a spider bite.

Profuse and heavy sweating can be a sign of a poisonous spider bite. Sweating occurs when the venom from the bite starts to impact the nervous system.One study conducted by researchers in Albania found that 56.9% of people with a spider bite experienced sweating. In some patients, sweating started within 30 minutes after the bite where in others it was 60 minutes or more.


You can’t stop itching a certain area of your body.

namtipStudio/ShutterstockItching is a common symptom of a tarantula bite.

Tarantulas may look scary, but the hairy spiders are not poisonous. Tarantula bites, however, can cause an allergic reaction, according to US News & World Report. As a result, the bite and surrounding area may become itchy. This is a common sign of a spider bite.


A rash starts to develop.

Miles Boyer/ShutterstockA brown recluse spider’s bite has distinct symptoms.

A study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine found that a bite from poisonous brown recluse spider can cause a rash or ulcer to form in the bite spot. This is not true of all spider bites, but if you notice this symptom, visit a doctor right away.


You feel hot or have the chills.

EverJean/flickr, CC BYChills are a sign your body is fighting an infection.

If you have a spider bite and don’t treat it fast, it may trigger a fever or chills. A rise in your body temperature can mean that you were bitten by a poisonous spider. A spider’s venom can destroy the tissue in the area of the bite and trigger your body into a fever, according to Healthline. Chills occur when the body starts to fight off an infection.


You are experiencing swelling

FlickrSwelling is a common symptom of a spider bite.

Venom from a spider can cause the bite to swell. This is a common sign of a spider bite, especially if you are also experiencing pain and redness. You should place ice or a wet compress on the impacted area to help reduce the amount of swelling, according to the US National Library of Medicine.


You develop a blister.

Eugene Kim/FlickrBrown recluse spider bites often cause blisters.

Most spiders in the US won’t typically cause blisters as the result of a bite, but brown recluse spiders will. To treat the infection, clean the blister and surrounding area with warm water and mild soap. Apply an antibiotic cream. This will help fight against infection. Make an appointment to see your doctor, especially if you notice the blister and surrounding area starting to turn blue, purple or black, according to WebMD.


Your muscles feel achy and are cramping.

ShutterstockA muscle ache might occur after you’ve been bitten.

Muscle spasms and cramps can occur if you have been bitten by a poisonous spider, like the black widow spider, according to MedBroadcast. The venom can also cause your muscles to ache. This usually begins in the area of the bite and occurs in 30 to 60 minutes after the bite.


You feel queasy.

Holly Lay/FlickrNausea is a symptom of a poisonous spider bite.

Black widow and brown recluse spider bites can cause nausea or vomiting in some people, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. This reaction will not usually happen if you were bitten by a non-poisonous spider.


You experience more severe symptoms like seizures, blood in your urine, and jaundice.

gmstockstudio/ShutterstockBlood in your urine can occur in severe cases.

Other severe spider bite reactions can include kidney failure and can cause you to fall into a coma, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. This is why it is important to seek medical help right away if you think you may have been bitten by a poisonous spider, like a brown recluse or black widow spider.

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