The bite caused by the black widow spider can affect the nervous system. This neurotoxic is one of the strongest venoms secreted by an animal. People have different reactions to the venom, some are slightly affected while others have a severe response. The first symptom that arises from the bite is an acute pain at the site of the bite. Symptoms usually appear within 20 minutes to an hour after the bite.
Black widow spiders are not aggressive and will only bite people out of self-defense or when they feel threatened. Exposure to a black widow spider isn’t necessarily dangerous until people start squeezing or pinching the spider’s body. This can also happen by mistake such as sitting on or grabbing a black widow spider when you’re instead reaching for something else.
A black widow spider can easily be identified by its shiny, black, globe-shaped abdomen with red marks on the underside.
Signs and symptoms
- Reddening around the bite
- Pain in the chest and abdomen
- Breathing difficulty caused by paralysis of the diaphragm
- Severe increase in blood pressure
In extreme cases, the venom of the black widow spider can cause seizures and death. Death, however, does not generally occur in healthy adults but young people, the elderly and those who have a weakened immune system is more susceptible to serious complications and death from a black widow spider bite.
Management of a black widow spider bite
If an individual was bitten by a black widow spider, it is vital to seek medical care immediately.
There are steps that you can do before you take a trip to the hospital or while you’re on your way to the hospital:
- Rinse the bite with running water and clean it thoroughly with soap.
- Apply an ice pack for 10 minutes on the bite, with 10-minute to help reduce swelling.
- If possible, raise the affected limb. For example, if the bite took place on your hand, keep your arm over your head.
The treatment you’ll receive for your black widow spider bite will depend on numerous factors such as your age, health condition, symptoms, and the severity of the bite. Your doctor may prescribe you medication to help ease the pain you feel; you may also be given medication to help reduce the high blood pressure that sometimes occurs the black widow spider bite. If the bite gives more severe symptoms such as muscle cramps, you may be prescribed muscle relaxants or antivenin. In some cases, you may need to be hospitalized.
The details posted on this page on a black widow spider bite is for learning purposes only. To learn how this bite is managed, enroll in a first aid course with one of our training providers.