No one wants to find a spider on their leg or in their bed, and the thought of getting a spider bite can bring on fear-inducing questions. Is it poisonous? How do I know if it’s poisonous? Should I go to the doctor? But we may be more afraid of spiders than we need to be.
Nearly all spiders found in the Cincinnati area are harmless, even if they bite. For the few whose bite can be dangerous, “you’ll have to find them; they don’t come looking for you,” according to TriHealth Priority Care Physician Matthew Birkle MD.
The spiders to avoid are the infamous black widow spiders, characterized by a black body and red hourglass design on their abdomen, and the brown recluse spider. Both tend to hide out in woodpiles and in the back of sheds. They build their webs in out-of-the-way locations and let their food (other insects) come to them. So, the goal is to avoid where they live or wear protective clothing, like long sleeves, pants and gloves.
Most other spider bites are harmless, similar to a mosquito bite. But, in any case, you should watch for an adverse reaction. Call 911 if there is an immediate, severe reaction to the bite, such as wheezing or swelling in the mouth or throat.
- Visit an urgent care such as TriHealth Priority Care if you notice these symptoms:
- Numbness or muscle weakness around the bite site within a few hours of the bite
- Severe burning sensation within a few hours, more than usually experienced with a bite
- Swelling, increasing redness, blisters or ulcers that develop over 24 to 48 hours after the bite
If you are bitten by a spider and you experience some minor discomfort and swelling, there are a few things you can to do find relief:
- Wash the bite with soap and water as soon as you find it.
- Apply a cool compress to help relieve swelling.
- Take an over-the-counter antihistamine to help with any pain.
- If you scratch the bite and the skin opens up, apply antibiotic ointment to prevent infection.
You can prevent spider bites by shaking out gloves, shoes, boots, clothing, towels and blankets before use – especially if they’ve been outdoors for a long period of time or tucked away in a closet or shed. If you decrease clutter around your home, you can decrease the amount of nooks and crannies that spiders desire. Before entering your shed or basement, make a little noise to scare spiders off. Remember, they are truly more afraid of us than we are of them!