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What are the Most Common Spider Bite Symptoms?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Unexplained bug bites and rashes are attributed to spiders every day, but in fact there are some very specific spider bite symptoms which can be used to determine whether or not a bite is from a spider, and how dangerous it is. Luckily for humans, most spiders have venom which can be processed by the body, so even if someone is bitten, he or she will not need medical attention. There are a few notable exceptions to this rule, including black widow, hobo, brown recluse, wolf, mouse, and funnel-web spiders. Common spider bit symptoms include a raised red welt, possibly with a bullseye appearance, accompanied by swelling, itching, and pain. More serious symptoms, such as a fever, dizziness, or confusion, are signs of a dangerous bite that should be reported to a doctor immediately.

Many people fail to notice that they are bitten by a spider at the time that the bite occurs. Spiders are shy, as a general rule, and they will only bite if they feel threatened or nervous. Sometimes, a small pinprick or pinch can be felt, but the first sign of a spider bite is often a raised red welt caused by the body's reaction to the venom, with a small dot in the middle where the spider bit down. Some spider bites have a distinctive bullseye appearance, with a ring of blanched skin around the bite, surrounded by a raised welt.

At the site of the bite, itching, swelling, pain, and redness are common. People can make themselves more comfortable by icing the site or applying remedies such as witch hazel to reduce swelling and itching. It is important to keep a spider bite clean to reduce the risk of infection and ulceration.

More serious spider bite symptoms include nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, and chills. In some cases, an increased heart rate, dizziness, shortness of breath, confusion, and unconsciousness can occur. These symptoms indicate that the patient has been exposed to dangerous spider venom.

When severe spider bite symptoms emerge, patients should go to the hospital. At the hospital, patients should explain that they think they may have been bitten by a spider, and describe the environments they have been in over the last few days, as this can help a doctor determine which species of spider did the deed. Patients who have direct contact with species known to be venomous should seek prompt attention for spider bite symptoms, or in the event that they notice a bite as it occurs.

Some people develop allergic reactions to spider bites, whether or not the venom is dangerous, and they can develop severe spider bite symptoms. Signs of allergies include hives, wheezing, and redness, and medical attention may be needed to address the allergic reaction. Patients with allergies may be issued an epi-pen which allow them to inject epinephrine for first aid in the event that they are exposed to allergens.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon935464 — On Feb 25, 2014

@anon105594: This definitely sounds like bed bugs. They usually bite in threes, hence the other post about "breakfast, lunch, dinner." I've had bed bug bites on my arm from falling asleep in someone's living room lounge chair. It was the worst and most intense itching I've had in my life. Plus, the itching starts a day or two after you've gotten bit.

By anon346075 — On Aug 25, 2013

If you think you got bit by a spider, wash the area with soap and water and seek medical attention. Do a search for spider bite pictures. A spider bite will have a black center as it progresses, and you may not always see the bite marks. Put ice on it, it will help the swelling and also the itch for a time.

You can also make a paste of baking soda and water, it gets messy as it dries but it does help. Make it thick, spread it over the bite and let it dry. Once dry repeat. Also you can use a wet tea bag, that helps with the swelling and itching also. Rinse area when done though, it will look like you are getting a bruise otherwise. If you find the spider bring it with you to the doctors so they know what it was that bit you. If you cannot find it, do not tell the doctor you were bitten by a spider. Tell them something seems to have bitten me, it could be something else and it is better they have an open mind in determining the cause.

Do not rule out a bat bite, either. I was bitten by what I thought was a spider in my sleep, and two days later my cat caught a bat. My bite was from the bat while I was asleep. Check with the CDC and type in bat bites and read up on them. If you find a bat in your room, assume you were bitten even if you do not see a bite anywhere. By the time you get symptoms, it is too late to save you if it is rabid, you will die.

Thank God my cat found the bat because I thought it was a spider bite and was stubborn and did not go to the doctor. You cannot see the teeth marks of a bat bite all the time, same as with a spider bite. Luckily, I got in under the wire and have been on an aggressive treatment for rabies this past week. I have a few more weeks to go.

Moral: Seek medical attention for any unidentified bite. If you are bitten and can bring in the biter for testing that is great. Do not delay; it could cost you your life.

By anon340999 — On Jul 07, 2013

I have this red bump. I noticed it Wednesday night when I was sleeping. I felt something and my stomach was really itchy so I got up and that is when I saw this raised red bump. Not thinking anything of it, I went back to sleep now it is Sunday and the bump is white around the outside and it has a black dot in the center and then around the white it is really red. The white and black part are raised and it's painful when I touch it. Then also on Friday morning, I woke up and my back was really stiff and sore. I'm not sure if it is related or not. Do you think this is a spider bite and if so, should I see a doctor?

By anon333792 — On May 07, 2013

@ anon105594: I've been having the same bite! It is now three or four instances. I was wondering if a bed bug lost a leg and started going in a circle. I'd rather it be a spider, but I don't know that a spider would seek me out again and again. Itchy, like you describe yours. What could it be?

By anon332553 — On Apr 29, 2013

I have a red ring with a blister in the middle. Could that be a poisonous spider bite?

By anon321710 — On Feb 24, 2013

I have two bumps on my back leg right next to each other. What is that?

By lluviaporos — On Dec 20, 2012

People are far too anxious about spider bites most of the time. Generally if you've got a welt it's far more likely to be a flea or a mosquito or a bedbug bite than a spider bite, particularly since spiders don't really have that many chances to get close to people, while those other bugs are always actively looking for someone to bite.

Most insect bite symptoms seem like they come from overactive imaginations than from the actual bite. Which is not to say that spiders shouldn't be treated with respect. But, for the most part they are harmless and couldn't be less interested in biting people.

By Ana1234 — On Dec 19, 2012

@anon277104 - If he hasn't got worse since then, he should be fine. But if someone shows those symptoms after being bitten you really need to take them to the hospital right away. There's no good waiting 24 hours, as the venom would have been working on his body for that amount of time and he'd either get better by himself, or get worse. People can have permanent damage from animal and bug venom.

I've heard of folk who've lost the use of a hand because of nerve damage or become numb in an area, or developed gangrene.

I know it can be expensive to go to the emergency room, but there are times when you really just have to swallow the cost and take the risk.

I just don't want you to think that because your fiance became well again after those symptoms it's OK to ignore them in the future, because next time you might not be so lucky.

By anon277104 — On Jun 28, 2012

My fiance got bit by a spider. He said it was an odd looking spider with a large abdomen and long legs. He said when it bit him he felt a sharp pain. Then a little while later, he felt nauseated and began throwing up. He had a headache. So he went to sleep. Now it is morning since that happened. I have been so frantic about it, I barely got any sleep. I cannot stop worrying about him. From what I've read above, those are more serious symptoms. Do you think he will be O.K.?

By anon216554 — On Sep 21, 2011

If you have three bites, it is a sign of bed bugs. That's how doctors diagnose it; they call it breakfast, lunch and dinner.

By anon173037 — On May 05, 2011

Another deadly spider not listed is the Brazilian wandering spider or the Banana Spider. And it is also very aggressive - regardless of its prey size, it will attack.

By anon172977 — On May 05, 2011

What about cold, used, wet tea-leaves? Definitely works with burns.

By carpusdiem — On May 05, 2011

This essay should have mentioned "Arachnophobia" -- an uncommon fear of spiders.

Experts are not yet sure what causes a fear of spiders.

By anon143443 — On Jan 16, 2011

Is it a spider bite if they are usually in clusters of three in almost a triangle shape but not quite? and if they are super tiny they are in the same shape but have like six in them?

By anon132434 — On Dec 06, 2010

What are the possibilities of the kind of spider it would be if the bitemark has two dots next to each other?

I don't know if this is because I'm paranoid, but lately I've been itching the spot where it was bitten, and now my arm (where it was bitten) feels... weak?

By anon105594 — On Aug 21, 2010

Is it a spider bite when it looks like a welt, then swells up and gets hot?

By cmsmith10 — On Jul 27, 2010

@carrotisland: You can use tobacco for spider bites treatment. The reason that it works is that the tobacco helps to draw the poison out and aids in quicker healing. You can take some cigarette tobacco and moisten it and then place it on the bite. Cover it with a band aid for a day or two. It actually helps.

You can also get a can of snuff and do the same thing. My mom always put snuff on our bug bites or bee stings.

If the spider bite starts hurting and the area around it is red and swollen, you need to see a doctor as quick as you can because it could be poisonous.

There are some great spider bite pictures on the internet that you can compare it to.

By CarrotIsland — On Jul 27, 2010

Has anyone ever heard of using tobacco or snuff on a spiderbite?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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