Spiders are considered as part of our lives. They are seen inside the house, out in the yard and have been a favorite creature in horror films. Even though some individuals are frightened of a possible injury from a spider bite, the reality is that most species of spiders are harmless to humans.
On the other hand, there are three species of spiders that are considered as exceptions since their bites can cause skin lesions, neurological toxicity and other systemic effects. These spiders include the black widow spider, tarantulas and brown recluse spider. Even though allergic reactions to spider bites are possible, it is most likely that the toxin from the spider bite is the main reason for the manifestation of symptoms.
Black widow spider
The black widow spider is often found in cool, dark places such as woodpiles and garages. The female spider possesses the distinctive red-orange hourglass figure on their abdomen and larger in size and more venomous than males.
Most bites from this spider causes immediate pain at the bite site with minimal redness or inflammation. On the other hand, the toxin can lead to neurological symptoms within 30 minutes to 2 hours and can include abdominal pain, muscle spasms, seizures, high blood pressure, nausea, vomiting and even respiratory failure.
The treatment includes local wound cleaning, application of an ice pack, tetanus prophylaxis and over-the-counter pain medications. Those who are experiencing severe symptoms require immediate medical attention.
Tarantula bites are mildly painful without significant inflammation or necrosis. The bites can be dangerous to pets though, particularly dogs. The treatment involves local wound cleaning, tetanus prophylaxis and pain relief with acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Many species of this spider release hair from the abdomen that can instigate hives once in contact with the skin. The reaction can be bothersome, especially if lodged into the eye.
Brown recluse spider
Brown recluse spiders are active at night and during the warm season. These spiders have a dark brown pattern on the center of their backs that is similar to a violin which is enclosed by three pairs of eyes. They are often found in linens, bedding and piles of clothing and often bite if they are trapped in between the fabric and the skin of the individual.
The bites are initially painless but progresses to a necrotic, inflammatory skin lesion in a few days. The systemic symptoms can occur which includes fever, body aches, chills, nausea and vomiting. The treatment for the spider bite includes local wound cleaning, tetanus prophylaxis, antibiotic treatment for secondary infections and even surgical debridement of the necrotic tissues.
Spider bites can be prevented by using long-sleeved shirts, pants, gloves and shoes while spending time in areas where spiders might live. It is also recommended to use a repellant such as those that contain DEET.
In case a spider is present on the body, you have to gently brush it off or flick it away instead of smashing it against the skin. In doing so, the spider will bite the individual as it is being crushed.
If a tarantula is kept as a pet, it is important to use gloves and eye protection as well as avoid getting the spider close to the face. Always use protective gear such as a face mask and gloves when cleaning the terrarium of a tarantula.