This weekend I was enjoying a nice warm morning at the car wash. I was relaxed and enjoying a coffee when all of a sudden I felt a slight tickling sensation across my right shoulder. I reached over to the area quickly grabbed and twisted.
I shuddered as I rolled the little invader out of my shirt. To my horror it was a brown recluse. I have stared a bull in the eyes and brushed off a coral snake but spiders freak me out. I don’t know why but I have always been terrified of them. For everyone living in the U.S., I have good news:
There are ONLY three types of potentially deadly spiders in the U.S.
The Brown Recluse
The Hobo Spider
And the Black Widow
The brown recluse is found in the southern two-thirds of the country. It likes to hide in boxes, books, and other hard to reach places.
The hobo spider likes it out west. The black widow has been found in every state except Alaska.
Here are a few on how to identify a spider bite.
1. Evaluate the Pain
If you feel pain when the spider bites, it’s likely a black widow, whose bite is often but not always painful. You may also develop severe body aches and fever.
A brown recluse spider bite is a slight sting at best. Most of the time you feel nothing. They hide in or under boxes, under your bed sheets, in your clothes. The first you know about it is the pain that develops several minutes to hours after the bite.
As a brown recluse bit progresses it takes a nasty turn.
This is the eschar—the black, leathery, dead tissue—that can form over the wound. T
A hobo spider’s bite feels similar to a brown recluse’s, and the pain also occurs minutes to hours after the bite.
2. Look at the Skin Damage
That’s the key to the brown recluse spider bite. You may not know when it bit you, but the bite area becomes red, blistered, or black. The area starts out small, and the redness spreads. A black spot of dead tissue develops in the middle of the redness. This dead tissue can be anything from small and superficial to deep and large—sometimes enough to warrant a skin graft when everything’s said and done. As the tissue dies, the area becomes very painful.
The hobo spider can cause skin damage, but less so than the brown recluse.
The black widow spider bite causes a red spot that’s sometimes hard to see. but while you may not see the spot another symptom will be much more obvious; It can cause plenty of muscle aches and cramping throughout the body for one to three weeks.
How to Treat a Bite From a Poisonous Spider:
If at all possible, get to a doctor. If you can’t, consider the following:
If you think the spider was a brown recluse or hobo spider:
keep the wound cool and slow your breathing. This will help slow the venom’s spread: Apply ice, and keep the area at heart level or above.
Even though bites are rarely fatal secondary infections can quickly turn so. The next step you need to do is make sure you do everything possible to prevent infection.
As the black layer of dead skin (eschar) sloughs off, treat the wound as you would any other, by keeping it clean and covered and applying antibiotic ointment or honey. Some large wounds take several weeks to heal. If it starts looking infected, you’ll need oral antibiotics.
Treat the pain. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever.
If you think the spider was a black widow take a pain reliever like ibuprofen or aspirin for the muscle cramps.
Within minutes to hours, a black widow bite can lead to severe chest and abdominal pain mimicking appendicitis or a heart attack. It can make your blood pressure go up and may need to be treated. (Possible signs include an quickened pulse and a flushed face.)
If you can’t get to a doctor, rest to try to lower the blood pressure. In worst cases, anti-venom may be given.
The good news is that thanks to anti-venom, it’s extremely rare to die from a spider bite and those that do are typically caused by an allergic reaction or a severe secondary infection.
That being said, I am still terrified of spiders and on occasion shake out my sheets before hopping into bed.