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

Call 911 Now

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

Call Doctor Now or Go to ER

  • 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)
  • Over 48 hours since the bite and redness now becoming 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 or too weak to stand
  • You think your child has a life-threatening emergency

Call Doctor Now or Go to ER

  • 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)
  • Over 48 hours since the bite and redness now becoming 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 information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.


Copyright 1994-2017 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC. All rights reserved.

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.

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