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How to Identify a Spider Bite

By John Lindell ; Updated July 27, 2017

The vast majority of people that are bitten by spiders experience these bites after the spider is frightened and attempts to defend itself. A spider can become trapped in linens, sheets, shoes and clothing and bite a person. However, a spider normally does not bite more than once and often the bite goes undetected. All spiders have fangs and venom but most are unable to even penetrate human skin and lack poison potent enough to do any harm. The typical spider bite will feel like a pin prick, become red and perhaps itch, swelling up for one to two days. However, in the United States there are some spiders that have a bite that can be distinctly identified by its symptoms, such as the black widow, the brown recluse, the hobo spider and the tarantula.

Look for a target-shaped area to develop if you are bitten by a black widow spider. The area will have a reddish ring that surrounds a pale interior, making it resemble a bull’s eye.

Be alert for cramping if a black widow bites you. This cramping can be accompanied by extreme muscle pain. The cramping will begin within two hours of being bitten if the spider has managed to get enough venom into the bite. The shoulders, abdomen, thighs and back will be the most likely areas to cramp.

Watch for chills and fever to start in the period of a few hours after the black widow bites you. Other symptoms that can help identify this type of spider bite include vomiting, nausea, headaches, sweating and an overall feeling of great anxiety.

Identify the bite of the brown recluse spider by the burning sensation that occurs in the first 10 minutes after it bites you. Watch for itching in the region of the bite and look for a bull’s-eye ring to appear. Wait for a blister to develop in the center of this bull’s-eye that eventually will break open and then scab over. The pain may be severe in nature and a reddish rash can occur one to two days after the brown recluse bites you.

Realize that the hobo spider’s bite is slow to heal. This spider, found in the Pacific Northwest, Utah and parts of California, has a painful bite that leaves an open wound after it blisters and breaks open. The wound will take on an elliptical shape and can sometimes be serious enough to need surgery to remove the necrotizing flesh within it before it becomes even more grave.

Know that pain is the major sign of a tarantula bite. Contrary to popular belief, a tarantula bite is not deadly and the poison is not strong enough to cause damage. However the bite will feel similar to that of a wasp or bee and can be quite painful.

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