Black Widow Spider Bite
Black Widow Spider Bite Facts
Of the 30,000 types of spiders, the black widow is probably the one best known and feared. Although spiders are often blamed for all kinds of symptoms, from local itching to diffuse rashes, the fact is that spiders rarely bite humans, and in fact, most spider bites do not even break the skin.
The bites of very large spiders such as tarantulas can be painful. Otherwise, in the temperate regions, the only spiders to be feared are the black widow and the brown recluse.
Picture of the underside of a black widow spider and an egg sack
Picture of a top view of a black widow spider
What are the symptoms of a black widow spider bite?
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The black widow spider produces a protein venom that affects the victim's nervous system. This neurotoxic protein is one of the most potent venoms secreted by an animal. Some people are slightly affected by the venom, but others may have a severe response. The first symptom is acute pain at the site of the bite, although there may only be a minimal local reaction. Symptoms usually start within 20 minutes to one hour after the bite.
Should I see a doctor if I get bitten by a black widow?
Treatment for serious reactions to a black widow spider's bite will be beyond the scope of most medical offices and urgent care centers. Pain relief may require the use of narcotics and antivenin (antitoxin to counteract the effects of the spider venom).
The decision to seek emergency care should be made early. If the person who was bitten by a black widow spider has more than minor pain or has whole-body symptoms, seek care at the nearest hospital's emergency department. If symptoms are severe, call 911 for emergency medical transport so that evaluation and treatment can start en route to the hospital.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/14/2016
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