Unless you are a small insect, we have good news: the majority of spiders in North America do not have lethal bites. Spider bites in humans fall into two categories: serious bites from two particular dangerous species, and annoying bites that can be handled effectively using home remedies for spider bites. What's more, these home remedies for spider bites are things you probably already have on hand in your kitchen and home first aid kit.
Let's take a look at the two spider species that have dangerous bites. The first is the brown recluse spider. First the good news: this spider has a limited range and is only found in the Southern United States down to the Gulf coast. Now the better news: the bite of this spider is almost always painless and almost never fatal. The bite of this spider seems to cause the death of cells and tissue surrounding the bite area. There is some argument that this cell death may be from a bacterial infection transmitted by the spider, and not from the spider's venom. The thing to watch for with this kind of bite is a rapid change in the way the bite area looks. If you have a bite that is changing rapidly, seek medical attention immediately, especially if you live in this spider's natural habitat.
The other "big bad" of the spider world is the black widow spider. If you are bitten by a black widow, you may recognize the spider by its distinctive black body and red hourglass marking. Even if you don't recognize the spider, you will recognize the bite. The bite is immediately painful, and severe body cramps, headaches, and tearing follow soon after. Seek medical attention immediately, as your symptoms will rapidly get worse. The good news here is that death is rare, and with proper medical treatment, you will likely have a very good outcome.
Just as people can be allergic to insect bites and stings, people can be allergic to spider bites. Most people who have these allergies know and carry appropriate medication with them at all times. But anyone who is bitten is susceptible to an anaphylactic reaction. So if there are any signs of swelling, rapid heart rate, and shortness of breath, call 911 and seek medical attention immediately.
Fortunately, despite their severity, allergic reactions and bites from brown recluse and black widow spiders are rare. Most of the time all you will need is a home remedy for spider bites. The main issue with a spider bite, as with an insect bite, is irritation and itching. To soothe the area of the bite, try using a preparation with a waxy emollient base like beeswax. If it has other nutrient ingredients, like bee pollen or propolis, so much the better.
An over the counter antihistamine, either oral or topical, will relieve swelling and make you more comfortable. Other things you can place on the bite site to help include a slice of raw onion, or a paste of baking soda and water.
Home remedies for spider bites are another essential tool for the home first aid kit. Use common sense, however, and know when a bite is an annoyance, and when you should be seen by a physician.
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