Spider Bites Symptoms & Causes

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The two types of spiders who are dangerous

In the United States, the two spiders that can cause serious problems are the black widow and the brown recluse spiders (sometimes called the violin spider). Both of these spiders are found in warm climates. If it is possible to kill or capture the spider without further harm to yourself or your child, it is important to do so. Place the spider in a glass jar or plastic container so it can be identified.

Brown recluse spider

The brown recluse spider, or violin spider, is about one inch long and has a violin-shaped mark on its upper back. It's often found in warm, dry climates and prefers to stay in undisturbed areas such as basements, closets and attics. It is not an aggressive spider, but will attack if trapped or held against the skin. No deaths have been reported in the country from a brown recluse bite.

What are the symptoms of a brown recluse spider bite?

Venom from the brown recluse spider usually causes local tissue damage. The following are the most common symptoms of a bite from a brown recluse spider bite. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • burning, pain, itching, or redness at the site which is usually delayed and may develop within several hours or days of the bite
  • a deep blue or purple area around the bite, surrounded by a whitish ring and large red outer ring similar to a "bulls eye"
  • an ulcer or blister that turns black
  • headache, body aches
  • rash
  • fever
  • nausea or vomiting

Black widow spider

A black widow spider is a small, shiny black button-shaped spider with a red hourglass mark on its abdomen and that prefers warm climates. Widow spider bites release a toxin that can cause damage to the nervous system, thus, emergency medical treatment is necessary.

What are the symptoms of a black widow spider bite?

The following are the most common symptoms of a black widow spider bite. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • immediate pain, burning, swelling, and redness at the site (double fang marks may be seen)
  • cramping pain and muscle rigidity in the stomach, chest, shoulders, and back
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • rash and itching
  • restlessness and anxiety
  • sweating
  • eyelid swelling
  • nausea or vomiting
  • salivation, tearing of the eyes
  • weakness, tremors, or paralysis, especially in the legs
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