How to treat a spider bite and symptoms to look out for


lthough extremely rare, spider bites could lead to dangerous outcomes and with over 650 different species of spiders, it’s important to know which spiders may be dangerous.

In the UK, the list of spiders which could lead to dangerous outcomes include the False Widow, The Tube Web spider, The Woodlouse Spider, The Cardinal Spider, The Money Spider, The Walnut Orb-Weaver Spider, The Wasp Spider, The Black Lace-Weaver, The Cross Spider, the Cupboard Spider, The Giant House Spider and Cellar Spider, The Lace-Webbed Spider and The Zebra Back Spider.

But depending on the spider and its victim, spider bites can cause anything from mild itching and redness to a reaction that becomes a medical emergency and could possibly result in death.

A student from the University of Hull died after being bitten by a spider in October last year, an inquest into his death has found.

Harry Bolton, 19, was said to have died from sepsis following the bite in his shared student house, where the students had already complained about spider invasions.

Residents of the student accommodation on Cottingham Road, Hull, East Yorkshire, had lodged several complaints regarding a sudden invasion of spiders in their dorms but an inquest heard a previous inspection found no infestation.

Police and paramedics were called to the scene and discovered a £1 coin size gape wound on his back which appeared to be infected.

Four days prior, Mr Bolton had complained about a spider bite on his back, and said that he was not feeling well.

He had gone to Hull Royal Infirmary that evening presenting symptoms of a high temperature and fast heart rate.

Coroner Paul Marks determined that Mr Bolton’s death was caused by sepsis due to an acute chest infection of an infected wound on his back.

“Had he not been bitten by an invertebrate, possibly a spider, he would not have died at that time. It is an incredibly unfortunate case. He had a promising future ahead of him,” he said.

How to identify a spider bite

Most spider bites are not poisonous and cause only minor symptoms like red skin, swelling, and pain at the site. You can tell you’ve encountered a spider bite because you’ll be able to see faint puncture marks in your skin. False widow spiders, so-called because of their similarity to the more poisonous black widow spider, are the main culprits of UK bites and typically give bites that cause pain, redness and swelling.

The black widow’s bite, which shows up as two puncture marks, may or may not be painful at first. But 30 to 40 minutes later, you may have pain and swelling may in the area. Within eight hours you may experience muscle pain and rigidity, stomach and back pain, nausea and vomiting, and breathing difficulties. You might not have seen the spider that bit you, but always seek medical attention immediately if there’s a possibility you could have been bitten by a poisonous spider.

If you suspect that you were bitten by a dangerous insect, and can see the spider, use the gallery below to confirm its identity.

How to treat a spider bite

1. Wash the bite area with cool soapy water.

This will clean the wound and help prevent infection.

2. Apply a cool compress, such as an ice pack.

This will ease the pain of the bite and help the swelling go down for 20 to 30 min.

3. Elevate bitten extremities

This is helpful for reducing inflammation and swelling. Tie a snug bandage above the bite if you think you’ve been bitten by a dangerous spider.

4. Relieve minor symptoms of pain using pain killers.

Children or teenagers recovering from chickenpox or who have flu-like symptoms should not take Aspirin.

5. Seek urgent medical care

Call emergency medical services immediately if the person with the spider bite has the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea
  • Muscle spasms
  • Lesions
  • Tightening in the throat that makes it hard to swallow
  • Sweating profusely
  • Feeling faint

6. Monitor the bite for the next 24 hours to ensure symptoms don’t worsen

Within a few days, the swelling should go down and the bitten area should feel less painful. See a doctor if symptoms don’t improve.

Of course, you can take preventative steps to stop spiders entering your home by following the steps in this guide.

“Bites from spiders in the UK are uncommon, but some native spiders – such as the false widow spider – are capable of giving a nasty bite,” says the NHS.

The national health body added: “Some spiders bites can cause you to feel or be sick, sweating and dizziness. Bites can also become infected or cause a severe allergic reaction in rare cases.

“Get medical help immediately if you have any severe or worrying symptoms after a spider bite.”

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