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Spider Bite Pictures, Symptoms, and Treatments

Updated on March 21, 2017
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My name is Dr. Suresh Kumar, and I live in India. I enjoy writing about medical topics.

If you think you may have been bitten by a spider, chances are you are not in serious danger. In most cases, your wound can be treated with basic first aid.

In fact, if you didn't actually see the spider bite you, that bump, bite, rash, or redness you're experiencing could be due to a wide range of things—including other types of bug bites, pimples, cysts, skin infections, or MRSA.

Even a medical professional may not be certain what bit you unless you happened to catch the offending bug or spider, or unless the bite is producing distinctive symptoms.

Though most spiders are technically poisonous, in the vast majority of cases, their fangs are too small to cause humans much trouble. Typically, the only result of a spider bite is an itchy, red wound that goes away in about a week.

In North America, there are only two medically significant spiders. These are the brown recluse and the black widow.

The two-pronged bite mark of a black widow spider. This bite took two weeks to heal, during which the victim experienced nausea.
The two-pronged bite mark of a black widow spider. This bite took two weeks to heal, during which the victim experienced nausea. | Source

Symptoms of Black Widow and Brown Recluse Bites

Spider
Physical Characteristics
Bite Symptoms
Geographical Location
Brown Recluse
Brown spider with six eyes and violin shape on back.
A red ring forms around a white wound (looks like a target or bullet). A blister develops on the skin surrounded by red.
South Central and Southern U.S.
Black Widow
Plump black spider with red hourglass figure on underside of abdomen.
Two puncture marks, spreading muscle cramping and pain, sweating, muscle rigidity.
Warm Southern and Western States

What to Do

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms in the above table, you should:

  • Wash wound with soap and cold water
  • Wrap ice in washcloth and apply to wound for 10 minutes, remove for 10 minutes, and repeat.
  • Go to the ER or get a doctor or a medical professional's help.

If You Can, Take a Photo of What Bit You

When you go to the doctor, you will need to give as much information as possible about the bite, your symptoms, and what you saw bite you (if you saw it). If possible, and if you can do so safely, try to catch the spider or take a photo of it.

First Aid for Other Types of Spider Bites

The vast majority of bites of any kind (spider or not), can be treated with basic first aid:

  • Wash the area with soap and water.
  • Put a cold compress or ice pack on the area (protecting the skin from extreme cold) for about 10 minutes at a time to reduce swelling.
  • If there is itching, you can apply calamine lotion (an anti-histamine), or a paste of baking soda and water several times a day.
  • Elevate the part of your body that is affected by the bite.
  • Over-the-counter pain killers, like acetaminophen (Tylenol), may be necessary to relieve the pain.
  • Keep the wound clean and apply antibiotic ointment.
  • Let any blisters pop on their own.

When to See a Doctor or Get Medical Help

See a doctor if you are experiencing:

  • Hives
  • Fever
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling of face, lips, or throat
  • Breathing problems
  • Shock
  • If the wound gets continually worse or spreads after applying basic first aid

Could It Be a Skin Infection?

Did you see the spider or bug bite you? If not, it's possible that it could be a skin infection. Follow the first aid tips above, and if the problem seems to be getting worse after 2-3 days, you should get professional help.

What NOT to Do When Bitten

  • Do not touch or massage the bitten area. If the spider was venomous, you should leave it alone in order to avoid spreading the venom.
  • Do not engage in any physical activities after being bitten.
  • Avoid heating pads. In the event that the spider emitted necrotic venom, the heat may facilitate the process of necrosis (dead skin tissue).
  • Avoid steroid creams.
  • Sucking out the venom is not recommended.

What a Doctor Will Do

There is no one treatment for all spider bites—it all depends upon the type of spider and severity of the bite. The doctor will begin by evaluating your symptoms. If there are signs of tachycardia, cardiac drugs may be given. Other medications may also be given to treat necrosis (dead skin tissue).

Your doctor may recommend a tetanus booster shot if you haven't had one in the last five years. You may need antibiotics if the bite becomes infected.

Serious cases may require medical evaluation. In some instances, patients may be closely monitored at the hospital.

In rare cases, surgery may be needed, especially if necrosis identified on the spider bite. Surgical evaluation is also necessary if the presenting symptoms are worsening.

More About Brown Recluse Spiders

If you have:

  • A red ring that forms around a white wound that looks like a bullet or a target
  • A blister that has developed on the skin

You may have been bitten by a brown recluse. It's possible you won't have felt anything when it bit.

Where They Live

Typically, these spiders live in South Central and Southern U.S. states (including Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama, and parts of Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska).

If you don't live in these areas, it's highly unlikely this is what bit you. These spiders also only attack if they are disturbed. They do not aggressively attack humans.

What They Look Like

These spiders are brown, slightly larger than a quarter, and have a distinctive marking on their back that looks like a violin, or fiddle. This can be easily mis-identified however. If you happen to see or catch the spider, the best way to identify it is by looking at its eyes. These spiders only have 6 eyes, instead of the usual 8.

What Happens When They Bite?

People will react differently to the venom. In 90 percent of cases, bites heal without medical attention and will not scar. You will see a small red mark that will heal soon.

For those who are more sensitive, a small blister may appear, the skin may become hard, and it may become blue-grey surrounded by red. It could turn into an open wound. Victims could also experience chills, fever, or headache.

If You've Been Bitten:

  • Wash the area of the bite with soap and water
  • Put a cold compress on for 10 minutes. Remove for 10 minutes, then repeat.
  • After, go immediately to the emergency room. If possible, bring either the spider or a picture of it to help identify it.

More About Black Widow Spiders

If you have:

  • Two puncture wounds on the skin that cause pain and burning
  • Spreading cramping and muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Chills, fever, nausea, or vomiting
  • Severe belly, back, or chest pain

Then you may have been bitten by a black widow.

Where Do They Live?

Black widows are mostly found in warm Southern and Western states. They like to live in piles of leaves, woodpiles, or in the attic. Like the brown recluse, they only attack if they feel threatened.

What Do They Look Like?

Only female black widows are dangerous to humans. They are plump and black, roughly the size of a quarter, with a red hourglass shape on the underside of their bellies, so check the spider if you caught it or saw it.

If You've Been Bitten:

  • Clean area with soap and cold water (do not massage the tissue to prevent venom spread)
  • Remain calm
  • Do not apply a tourniquet
  • Wrap ice in towel and apply to the wound for 10 minutes, remove for 10 minutes, then repeat
  • Get medical help immediately

These bites are rarely fatal. Only the very young, the elderly, or people with weakened immune systems are at risk of fatal reactions.

Why Spiders Bite

While some spiders are aggressive, most spiders tend to hide and prefer dark and isolated places. Spiders often bite in self-defense, when they sense harm from another living creature. People are bitten because we may have harmed them unknowingly.

Most bites by spiders in the United States will only cause an itchy red spot that clears up in a few days. That's because most spider fangs, or chelicera, are too short to completely penetrate human skin. While some bites are almost painless, others can feel like a bee sting.

One of the main concerns about a spider bite is the potential effects of the venom. As mentioned, some dangerous species of spiders can inflict little to no pain upon biting, and so they, therefore, can go unnoticed. But some spider bites are dangerous. So identifying the type of spider and seeking treatment is important.

Other Common Spiders That Bite

  • Hobo spiders: These large brown spiders are common in the Pacific Northwestern U.S. Symptoms of their bites are similar to those of a brown recluse. Seek medical attention to hasten the healing process.
  • Tarantulas: Common to the warm Southwestern U.S., the bite of these big, hairy spiders feels like a painful bee sting. Seek medical attention to monitor heart rate and breathing, as the bite can make breathing difficult.
  • Wolf Spiders: Found in all areas of the U.S. these spiders actually stalk and can be aggressive. Their bite can tear the skin and cause pain, redness, and swelling. They have two eyes in front that are much bigger than their other 6.

More Dangerous Spiders

Here are some more dangerous spiders that are found world-wide. Bites from these kinds of spiders in North America are extremely rare.

  • Redback spiders
  • Brazilian wandering spiders
  • Tree-dwelling funnel-web spiders

A bite from one of these spiders can produce intense pain and other symptoms such as chills, fever, nausea, vomiting, and severe abdominal pain.

Other serious cases of manifestations are leg cramps, body aches, sweating, exhaustion, tachycardia, dizziness, and shortness of breath, confusion, and even unconsciousness. A visit to the emergency room is a must if the bite victim experiences any of these symptoms.

The world's most potentially dangerous spiders, when they bite people, are the Sydney funnel-web spiders and Brazilian wandering spider.

These spiders may be more dangerous than black widows because their fangs are longer and they can inject more venom deeper into the skin.

Spider Bite Pictures

References

"Black Widow Spider Bite - Topic Overview." WebMD.

  • What is a black widow spider? Black widow spiders (Latrodectus mactans and Latrodectus hesperus) are found throughout the United States and southern Canada.

"Brown Recluse Spiders: What to Know." WebMD.

  • This article walks you through the steps for emergency treatment of a brown recluse spider bite.

Esposito, Lisa. "How to Detect and Treat Spider Bites." U.S. News & World Report. July 8, 2016.

  • Spiders can cause minor skin irritations or toxic reactions.

"Insect Bites and Stings and Spider Bites - Topic Overview." WebMD.

  • Insect and spider bites often cause minor swelling, redness, pain, and itching. These mild reactions are common and may last from a few hours to a few days.

Mayo Clinic Staff. "Spider bites." MayoClinic.

  • Comprehensive overview covers symptoms, complications, and treatment of spider bites.

Story, Colleen M. (medically reviewed by Debra Sullivan, PhD, MSN, CNE, COI). "How to Identify and Treat Spider Bites." Healthline. October 20, 2016.

  • Learn how to identify spider bites and prevent potentially serious complications from the brown recluse, black widow, Brazilian wandering spider, and more.

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    • profile image

      bokang 3 years ago

      The spider has biten me on my left eye and I don't feel any pain but I feel like am sweatin and I feel am becoming awesome and having energy

    • profile image

      Ben 2 years ago

      I recently had shomteing similar happen to me except my bed WAS actually full of spiders. I was about to go to sleep one night, when I saw a few tiny spiders on my blanket. I got up and looked at the foot of the bed and there were several dozen more. Then my eyes moved to the basket of freshly cleaned and folded laundry, and guess what...teaming with tiny spiders. I'm pretty sure an egg sac of baby spiders had just hatched ON my bed. Now usually, I hate killing spiders. I will take them outside or just leave them, but there were 100 baby spiders crawling all over my bed, and I wanted to go to sleep. So I spent the next hour and a half on a spider killing rampage with some tissues. I then spent the night on my futon in the next room, and washed my sheets and vacuumed very thoroughly in the morning. It was super traumatic.

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      Kacie 9 months ago

      I was bitten by a tiny little black spider on my left breast and its been itching all day and its red and has a bump where the bite actually took place its scary i thought it was breast cancer but its not i dont know what to put on it plz help me if u can ..anybody

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      Sue 9 months ago

      Kacie please go see a doctor! Me and my daughter both have been bitten by spiders (within months of eachother) and it got seriously infected. The area was hot to the touch, red and painful. It became infected and gross. We were given a shot and antibiotics. We both have a small scars. Please get it looked at! Best of luck for a speedy recovery.

    • profile image

      Becky 7 months ago

      I'm pretty sure I was bitten by a hobo spider the other day. There are 2 little holes (fang marks) on my ankle and two red lesions, 6" and 12" further up my leg, which I now believe are the results of the venom from each fang. Has anyone ever heard of this? Only other symptom was severe sweating at times over the past two days. Of course, I work tomorrow (Friday) & Monday, so it might be 4 more days till i can see my doctor. Ugh!

    • profile image

      martin mocha 7 months ago

      was so shocked by some of the incredibly ignorant comments I stumbled across while reading various Spider bite articles I felt I had to respond to the most  moronic statement from somebody calling themselves "Mountain Lion" that "no spider can kill a human” which is tantamount to stating no human has ever killed an animal or that the Sea Wasp jelly fish, Chironex Fleckeri, is as harmless as a bowl of jello:-)

      From Latrodectus (Black Widows) to Phoneutria (Brazilian Wandering spiders) to Atrax robustus (Sydney Funnel Web), Loxosceles and so forth, there is ample, readily available documentation detailing scores of human fatalities attributable to various species over the decades as mentioned above. Various Phoneutria sp. for instance, are considered to possess the most virulent spider neurotoxin yet measured in a lab and fortunately for human victims, the Phoneutria spiders (mainly P. fera and P. nigriventer) are very careful with how much venom they inject unlike the primitive Mygalomorph spiders i.e., the Sydney Funnel web and still, there have been documented human fatalities from the Phoneutria bite (see Wolfgang Bucheral’s studies in his book "Venomous Animals and their Venoms Vol. III”) among the more notable.

      If spiders like Phoneutria injected a full load per every chance encounter with humans, their bite could result in a possible fatality every time if antivenin was not available. Lastly, as per some of the “chats” and internet comments I have read that blabber on touting how “harmless” most North American spiders are, I say NEVER assume a spider is "harmless" which is one of the most absurd fallacies promoted by clueless morons. For instance, Dolomedes tenebrosus, which is abundant in my area of New Hampshire, certainly isn't known to possess a venom toxic enough to cause substantial damage to humans, however; the Dolomedes or Lycosides (Wolf spiders) can not only inflict a painful bite, but depending on a persons immune system, possible allergies and where the bite occurs, almost anything is possible. 

      I know a roof contractor who suffered a horrendous bite reaction from a large Dolomedes tenebrosus that bit him while he was nailing in shingles on a roof job. He told me he accidentally trapped the spider and it bit him twice on his index finger than ran off. Not only did he suffer immediate intense pain due to the mechanical laceration from its chelicerae, within a few hours, the local bite area developed into a severe necrotic lesion accompanied by systemic effects such as nausea and chills. Even taking into consideration, this man might have had either a compromised immune system or obscure allergy/sensitivity to arachnid venom, never the less, it strikingly illustrates the potential danger of any spider bite.

      Rule of thumb, to anyone out there on the internet is, NEVER allow yourself to be bitten by any spider period, its simple common sense unless somebody is a masochist. The only thing more reckless would be to vote for Donald Trump:-)

    • profile image

      Cleveland Brown 6 months ago

      OOOO look at Martin Mocha he/she uses the scientific name for spiders. he/she must know what he/she is talking about. And don't vote for either Clinton or Trump. Vote Gary Johnson! But I digress. This statement you made is not realistic.

      "Rule of thumb, to anyone out there on the internet is, NEVER allow yourself to be bitten by any spider period"

      It's kind of like saying rule of thumb, to anyone out there living in the mid-west, NEVER allow yourself to be sucked up by a tornado.

    • profile image

      Eve 6 months ago

      My 13 yr old daughter wakes up with bites on her legs and hands. She is in her bed. I seriously did my homework on bedbug hunting, and found no signs of bedbugs at all- I even go in her room at around 1a.m. To see if I can see something, yet there's nothing. I have 2 other kids in their rooms. They have no bites at all. My husband and I have no bites.

      We think it may be spiders. We do have brown spiders in our house. My question is ... Has anyone had any experience in spiders biting you while you sleep? My husband sprayed bug spray around her bed and window, the next morning my daughter found a dead brown fuzzy looking about a little bigger than a dime size spider, on her bed! yet she had 3 new bites that night. THankYoU for reading anyway. If someone has any suggestions or ideas please write back! Thank you

    • profile image

      kathy atkinson 6 months ago

      my 2 year old grandson got bitten,mark in the middle of it,looks like a bee sting,but not the redest around it looks like it is getting bigger any help with this,thank you

    • profile image

      sdwood 5 months ago

      spiders usually access the bed via bedskirts.

    • profile image

      Jacelyn Farwent 5 months ago

      I have spiders in my room, but they're daddy long legs, which are pretty much harmless, yet I have two spider bites!! What is the explanation of this?

    • profile image

      Ema 5 months ago

      I just noticed two fang marks on my two year olds foot there is two bumps about an inch away from the two fang marks but he hasn't shown any reaction to it what could it be

    • profile image

      cattywampus 4 months ago

      Lots of good information but really impressed how one person worked in a stab at Donald Trump. Very clever.

    • profile image

      johnson 3 months ago

      This article has nothing about the Yellow Sac Spider. This is responsible for the majority of bites people endure since the spider is nocturnal & comes out when people are asleep & the lights are off. I have read many articles on this species & they will bite unprovoked. It is an aggressive spider at night. It is a hunter spider & is seeking out food. My opinion is that the spider cannot find any insects in my home & even though human blood is not something they ingest, the warmth of our bodies suggests that it might be nutrition, so they bite you. I have had Terminix in my home 5 times this year complaining about this species & despite their intentions, I am still getting bitten. The bites occur mostly on my neck , head & upper chest. Always where the blanket stops & skin is exposed. Funny thing that I never get bitten on my arms, hands or other places. Once in a while I will have a bite on my butt or stomach but it is rare. I think I have to move into a brand new home & make sure it is caulked to the max, because I have had these bites for 50 years plus now.

    • profile image

      mieke 3 months ago

      i woke up this morning with a really big bump tipe of thing on my arm. it might be a spider.

    • profile image

      Alison 2 months ago

      I have a mark that looks similar to the 3rd picture and its giving me a lot of pain, but its not said what that mark is from...

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      Tina 8 weeks ago

      Mines looks like the last picture what kind is that one

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      dylan 7 weeks ago

      I have been biten by a spider a long time ago and I had a huge rash and I do not know what that spider was plz help

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      ZARN loveday 7 weeks ago

      I was uo in a leader .and it calapst .I had a bit of a sore foot .I went to bed when I got up my foot was as big as afoot ball and my right foot was swollen but not like the left.there is two sets if two hols. As well as swollen it is very painful thear are tiny little blisters. I am in Newcastle nsw

    • profile image

      virginia 3 days ago

      I have been getting bit at night by something, I don't know what. But it is almost always on my neck! I say almost always because once I got 2 bites on my hand-all the rest on my neck. It looks like a mosquito bite, just a bump that itches. I tried a fogger--didn't help. I never see anything and it happens maybe once a week. any suggestions? It is getting where I don't want to sleep in my bed, but I like my own bed!!

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