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  • Select from over 100 symptoms to read more about managing your child's illness.

    Is Your Child Sick? TM


    Spider Bite

    Is this your child's symptom?

    • Bite from a spider

    Symptoms of a Spider Bite

    • Most spider bites cause local pain, redness and swelling. It's much like a bee sting reaction.
    • A few spiders (such as the Black Widow) can cause a more severe reaction.
    • Helpful if spider seen on the skin or around the child

    Cause of Spider Bite Reactions

    • Most spiders have tiny fangs. They inject venom into the skin.
    • The venom is what causes all the symptoms.

    Types of Spider Bites

    Black Widow Spider Bite

    • A shiny, jet-black spider with long legs (total size 1 inch or 25 mm).
    • A red (or orange) hourglass-shaped marking on its under-side.
    • Causes immediate local pain and swelling.
    • Sometimes, you can see 2 fang marks at the bite site.
    • Severe muscle cramps (especially stomach cramps) occur within 1 to 6 hours. These last 24 to 48 hours.
    • Rarely causes death. Exception: bitten by several spiders or small child is bitten.
    • Note: many are dry bites because the fangs are small.
    • The brown widow spider is related to the black widow. It is found in southern US.
    • Brown widow spider bites are treated the same as black widow bites.

    Brown Recluse Spider Bite

    • A brown spider with long legs (total size ½ inch or 12 mm).
    • A dark violin shaped marking on top of its head.
    • Causes pain at the bite. Blisters form within 4 to 8 hours.
    • The center becomes bluish and depressed (crater-like) over 2 to 3 days.
    • Skin damage may require skin grafting in 10% of cases.
    • Other symptoms such as fever, vomiting, muscle pain can occur. No life-threatening symptoms occur.
    • Brown recluse spiders are hard to identify. If you can, bring the spider along in a jar.

    Non-dangerous Spider Bites

    • More than 50 spiders in the U.S. have venom. Their bites cause reactions that are not serious. This includes pain or redness at the bite site.
    • The bites are painful and swollen. This lasts for 1 or 2 days. They can feel and look like a bee sting.
    • Some single, unexplained, tender bites that occur during the night are due to spiders.

    When to Call for Spider Bite

    When to Call for Spider Bite

    Call 911 Now

    • Trouble breathing or wheezing
    • Passed out (fainted) or too weak to stand
    • You think your child has a life-threatening emergency

    Call Doctor or Seek Care Now

    • Fever and bite looks infected (spreading redness)
    • Your child looks or acts very sick
    • You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent

    Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

    • New redness starts more than 24 hours after the bite. Note: any redness in the first 24 hours is due to venom.
    • More than 48 hours since the bite and redness now getting larger
    • Bite starts to look bad (such as skin damage, blister or purple color)
    • Bite pain lasts more than 2 days
    • You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

    Call Doctor During Office Hours

    • You have other questions or concerns

    Self Care at Home

    • Non-serious spider bite

    Call 911 Now

    • Trouble breathing or wheezing
    • Passed out (fainted) or too weak to stand
    • You think your child has a life-threatening emergency

    Call Doctor or Seek Care Now

    • Fever and bite looks infected (spreading redness)
    • Your child looks or acts very sick
    • You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent

    Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

    • New redness starts more than 24 hours after the bite. Note: any redness in the first 24 hours is due to venom.
    • More than 48 hours since the bite and redness now getting larger
    • Bite starts to look bad (such as skin damage, blister or purple color)
    • Bite pain lasts more than 2 days
    • You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

    Call Doctor During Office Hours

    • You have other questions or concerns

    Self Care at Home

    • Non-serious spider bite

    Care Advice for Non-dangerous Spider Bites

    1. What You Should Know About Spider Bites:
      • Most spider bites look and feel like a bee sting.
      • The main symptoms are pain and redness.
      • Here is some care advice that should help.
    2. Clean the Bite:
      • Wash the bite well with soap and water.
    3. Cold Pack for Pain:
      • For pain or swelling, use a cold pack. You can also use ice wrapped in a wet cloth.
      • Put it on the bite for 20 minutes.
    4. Pain Medicine:
      • To help with the pain, give an acetaminophen product (such as Tylenol).
      • Another choice is an ibuprofen product (such as Advil).
      • Use as needed.
    5. What to Expect:
      • The swelling and pain lasts for 1 to 2 days.
      • It should not be any worse than a bee sting.
    6. Call Your Doctor If:
      • Severe bite pain lasts more than 2 hours after pain medicine
      • Stomach pains or muscle cramps occur
      • Bite pain lasts more than 2 days (48 hours)
      • Bite starts to look infected
      • You think your child needs to be seen
      • Your child becomes worse

    And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

    Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.

    Copyright 2000-2019 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC.

    Black Widow Spider

    This is a photo of the Black Widow spider (Lactrodectus)

    • The black widow is shiny and black, with long legs (total width 1 inch).
    • A red (or orange) hourglass-shaped marking may be on its underside. However, this marking is not present in all Lactrodectus species.
    Brown Recluse Spider

    This is a photo of the Brown Recluse Spider (Loxosceles reclusa).

    • It is a brown spider with long legs (total width 1/2 inch).
    • There is a characteristic violin-shaped marking is visible on back.