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Black Widow Bite: Symptoms & Treatments

black widow bite
Image by Tom Sid via Unsplash

The black widow bite is a venomous arachnid bite caused by the female spider. Female black widow spiders are found worldwide, particularly in warmer climates. They particularly like woodpiles, gardens, and crevices underneath rocks. 

The venom from a black widow bite can cause intense pain and other symptoms such as sweating, fever, nausea, and vomiting.

“Black Widow Bite,” Source: YouTube, Uploaded: Animals Around The Globe

In this article, we will look at the effects of a black widow bite and what steps should be taken if you’re ever bitten by one. 

Symptoms of Black Widow Bites 

black widow bite
Black widow spider. Image by Adrian Valverde via Unsplash

The symptoms of a black widow bite can range in severity. Generally, the bite will cause sharp pain in the affected area, which may be accompanied by local swelling and redness.

Additional symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, fever, muscle cramps or spasms, headache, increased blood pressure, and breathing difficulty. 

In addition to these physical symptoms, some people may experience psychological effects such as anxiety or paranoia. In extreme cases of black widow bites, victims may suffer anaphylactic shock due to an allergic reaction. Cases like this require immediate medical attention. Over time, victims of black widow bites may also experience joint pain and general malaise.

Click here to learn more about the clinical features of a patient with black widow bite.

What Happens If You’re Bitten? 

The female spider’s potent venom causes a black widow bite, which is composed of neurotoxins. This toxin can cause a sharp, burning sensation in the area around the bite. 

In rare cases, these toxins can also cause anaphylaxis and even death. Symptoms of a black widow bite can include local pain at the site of the bite, muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, sweating, difficulty breathing, increased blood pressure, and in some cases, seized muscles or cardiac arrest. 

black widow bite
Image by Veronica Lorine via Unsplash

The severity of the symptoms depends on several factors. These include the age and health of the individual bitten, and how much venom was injected. Either way, you must seek prompt medical attention after being bitten by a black widow to prevent further harm.

Treatment for Black Widow Bites 

Treatment for black widow spider bites must be immediate and comprehensive. The first step is to identify the bite, as this will determine whether antivenom is necessary. If possible, catch or photograph the spider to aid in identification. 

black widow bite
Image by Tom Sid via Unsplash

In cases where antivenom is unnecessary, over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen may help with pain management. Applying a local anesthetic cream to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and relieve discomfort. 

If antivenom treatment is required for more severe symptoms, it must be administered within 4 hours of being bitten. Following antivenom therapy, there may still be some residual muscle cramping and pain. This can sometimes last several days or weeks. 

Symptom control strategies should include bed rest and avoiding strenuous activity. Ensure to stay well hydrated with fluids to prevent dehydration caused by sweating due to feverish conditions. It is also important to ingest food high in carbohydrates, take the prescribed antibiotics and avoid additional stress on already compromised muscles.

Prevention Tips: How to Avoid Black Widow Bites 

black widow bite
Image by Jon Butterworth via Unsplash

Although there is no surefire way to altogether avoid being bitten by a black widow spider, there are some preventive measures that should be taken when you move around in areas where Black Widows are present.

#1 Wear Long Clothing When Working Outdoors

When spending time outdoors, it is essential to wear clothing that covers your arms and legs, such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and gloves. 

#2 Store Food and Drinks Properly 

Please ensure any food items or drinks are correctly stored so that spiders aren’t attracted to them. This includes both inside your house and outside on decks or patios where food might attract pests like spiders.

#3 Check Your House

Pay particular attention to any small crevices or cracks around your home that may provide an entry point for black widow spiders. Make sure to seal up any possible entryways they could use to get inside your house. 

#4 Inspect Outdoor Items Before Use 

Before using any outdoor equipment, such as lawn furniture or tools, inspect them briefly for signs of spiders or their webs. This includes items stored inside sheds/barns and those used outside during activities like gardening, hiking, etc.

#5 Wear Gloves When Handling Wood 

If you’re going to be handling wood outdoors, make sure you’re wearing gloves so that any potential spiders won’t have direct contact with your skin. This also applies when lifting heavy objects like logs which could potentially harbor hidden spiders beneath them (especially if they’ve been sitting out in nature untouched for some time.)  

#6 Clean Up Messy Yards 

Get rid of any clutter in your yard or near the perimeter of your home. Piles of wood or debris can act as a harborage for black widows, so make sure these areas are clean and free from debris where possible. 

#6 Professional Help

 If you are concerned about possible infestations in or around your home, contact a professional pest control operator. They can advise on the best action for dealing with the problem safely and effectively.

Learn More

YouTube video
An Encounter With a Black Widow Spider,” Source: YouTube, Uploaded: The New York Times

Conclusion 

If you think you’ve been bitten, it’s crucial to seek professional medical attention right away to get relief from any symptoms associated with their venomous bites (such as pain).

Taking proper precautions, including wearing protective clothing when dealing with outdoor items and inspecting areas before use, can also help reduce your chances of encountering one of these dangerous critters while enjoying nature outdoors!

Thank you for reading this article on the Black Widow Bite! Another spider to watch out for is the Wolf Spider – read our post on the Wolf Spider Bite to learn about the symptoms and treatments.

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