Should Your Child See a Doctor?
Is this your child's symptom?
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
Estimated Urgent Care Wait Times
These are estimated wait times for each Urgent Care clinic. Wait times are typically longest during the first hour we are open and may not be reflected immediately in the online wait time. Wait times may also vary depending on the severity of the illnesses we are treating.
If your child’s illness or injury is life-threating, call 911.
Care Advice for Non-dangerous Spider Bites
- 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.
- Clean the Bite:
- Wash the bite well with soap and water.
- 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.
- 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.
- What to Expect:
- The swelling and pain lasts for 1 to 2 days.
- It should not be any worse than a bee sting.
- 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.
Last Reviewed: 09/01/2012
Last Revised: 09/01/2012
Copyright 1994-2015 Barton D. Schmitt, MD. All rights reserved.