January 10th, 2009
Why I'm writing this is beyond me. There are very few things in this world that scare me, though I'm loathe to admit it, and I understand that it is wholly irrational, I am truly and utterly afraid of spiders. Just the writing of this article is guaranteed to give me nightmares for at least the next couple nights. As my fiancée can attest to, it's not uncommon for me to wake up screaming and tearing at the sheets in search of that giant spider I know is lurking around in my bed. The only critter in this world that scares me more than spiders is the house centipede, and yet they don't give me the nightmares. I think it's the possibility of the bite. If I know there is a spider in my room, I cannot sleep until I know it's no longer a threat. I do, at least, try my hardest not to kill them. If at all possible, even though it sends shivers up and down my entire body, I try to capture and take them outside.
The fact of the matter is there are very few spiders whose bite can do any real damage to a person. For the most part, spider bites will do nothing more than cause some swelling, redness, itching, and pain. Yeah, it's pretty darn unpleasant, but it probably won't cause you any real damage. That is unless—and not to scare you—you are either allergic or you have been bitten by a black widow or a brown recluse. If you are allergic to a spider bite, you can suffer symptoms of anaphylaxis such as weakness, wheezing, hives, shortness of breath, vomiting, a stomach ache, and the list goes on. If you have any of these symptoms or are the least bit unsure if your symptoms are normal, get your ass to the doctor. If your child has been bitten by a spider, get him or her into the doctor. If you are elderly, get to the doctor. The last thing I want here is to prevent you from getting yourself or anyone you know the help needed. I'm not a doctor. However, if you are certain that what you are dealing with is an everyday, run-of-the-mill spider bite and you just want a little spider bite relief, read on.
Spider Bite Treatment
Catch it if you can. I'm aware that if you just received a spider bite, the last thing you want to do is get closer to the monstrosity that inflicted it. I also know that catching it can be difficult, especially if you were outside when it happened. It might even be impossible, like if the spider bite happened in your sleep. However, if it can be done safely, you should try to catch it. Or at least squish it and collect the (hopefully not too mutilated) remains in a tissue That way, if you need to go to the hospital, the doctor will know exactly what he or she is dealing with. If you can't or don't want to catch it, memorize its appearance.
Do your best to stay calm. I know this too can be difficult. But if you freak out, your heart will start racing. This will cause the spider venom to spread through your body all that much quicker. If you were bitten on one of your limbs (legs, feet, arms, hands), do your best to keep that body part lowered so that the venom is more likely to stay local. Remember that there is a real good chance that you will be perfectly fine and that staying calm is merely a precaution. This will help you to do so.
Clean the wound. Once you have reached somewhere where you are able to do so, clean the spider bite gently with cool water and soap. This will help you flush any venom away from the wound that may have otherwise had the chance to enter your system. The cool water will also help with swelling. Once clean, pat the area down very gently with a clean cotton towel.
Apply some ice to the spider bite. One of the most irritating aspects of a spider bite is the swelling. It is ugly and uncomfortable. So, using a towel with some ice in it or an ice pack wrapped in a towel, apply the ice to the spider bite. You will want to ice it down for about fifteen to twenty minutes at a time. Do this for about the first six hours after a spider bite to help avoid excess swelling. The cold also has a nice numbing affect.
Do what you can to ease the pain. The effects from most spider bites last from a few hours to a couple days. To help with the pain, you might want to apply some topical local anesthetic such as benzocaine (Anbesol, Orajel) or Solarcaine. Popping an antihistamine (like Benadryl) might be nice too. Going old school helps as well. Hit up some aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxin (Aleve). These all act as anti-inflammatories and/or analgesics and will help with swelling and pain.
Poisonous Spiders that Bite
Yes, it's true. There is many a poisonous spider out there. In fact, pretty much all of them are. Luckily for us, though, there are very, very, very few spiders out there that can actually hurt us. Most of them are simply too small and/or their venom is too weak to do any damage to us. There are somewhere around 30–40 thousand described species of spiders in the world with around three thousand species found in the United States alone. As stated before, the number of them that can cause us harm is quite minimal and, with the exception of the two at the upper left of this page, almost none of them cause any real problems. Some of the other spiders that are most likely to bite people are as follows: jumping spiders, wolf spiders, tarantulas, hobo spiders, yellow sac spiders, funnel web spiders, tarantulas, brown spiders, black house spiders, mouse spiders, orb-weaving spiders, and trapdoor spiders.