Black widow bite is said to be probably the most famous and dangerous spider bites in comparison to about thirty thousand species of spiders present on the planet. People usually believe that when a rash occurs along with/without an itchy feeling, then it may be due to spider bites, especially if the region is fraught with spiders. However, this is not true in most cases as the cause for such anomalies may not be due to spider bites. Spider bite in humans is observed in very rare cases. Also, some types of spider even lack ability to prick human skin.
Black widow spiders – Types
The size of black widow spider is very small. An adult black widow spider can measure about half an inch. The name ‘black widow spider’ is given due to a wrong notion that the female black widow spider destroys the male after mating. These types of spiders are prevalent in southern areas (state) of the U.S.A; it can be found in other areas of America as well.
There are 5 types of black widow spiders in the United States of America, amongst them the southern black widow and northern black widow is very common. The unique features of southern black widow spider include a glittery black round belly with a mark on it. This mark looks like an hourglass. The northern black widow spiders have 2 crosswire lines that can be seen on the lower section of the stomach. Also a set of red colored marks on the back and middle area are visible. The color of a northern black widow spider may be brown whereas the color of its leg is red. Sometimes the marks may be white or yellow in color.
Black widow spider can be easily spotted at nighttime as they are nocturnal pests and are usually very active after dark. They tend to conceal themselves in dark corners, cracks, and crevices in walls so that they can keep away from humans. Nonetheless, black widow spiders also take cover in garage, outhouses. Normally, black widow spiders do not bite; but when they are taking care of their eggs or are disturbed, then the female species will bite and cause skin injuries. The male black widow spider however doesn’t bite.
Symptoms and stages of the black widow bite
Black widow spider secretes a protein venom. When it bites a person, this venom affects the person’s nervous system. It is assumed that the poison is amongst the most intoxicating toxins released by an insect. Few people bitten by black widow spider may suffer from severe symptoms, while its effect is mild in some patients.
The reactions due to black widow spider bite differ from person to person. A person’s physical health as per the age determines the level of reactions; usually older adults and children are more vulnerable to develop severe symptoms. These bites do not result in death; still, there is danger for children and older adults. For them the reactions may become fatal.
Some of the common symptoms of black widow spider bite are as follows:
- Acute pain in the bitten area. Usually when a person is bitten by black widow spider acute pain occurs in the bitten area. Most of the symptoms may occur within 20 to 60 minutes after the black widow spider has bitten. Localized reaction may be visible.
- Weakness, severe muscle cramps, tremor, and pain in abdomen may also occur after the initial symptoms of pain. It generally affects the large muscles in back and shoulders, which aggravates further and leads to severe pain.
- Some other symptoms like sensations of nausea, dizziness, chest pain, difficulty in breathing, vomiting urges, and fainting may also be occur. This is seen in very severe cases of black widow spider bites.
Treatment of black widow spider bite
Treatment should be taken without delay if the victim is sure that a black widow spider has bitten them. Victim should be admitted in a hospital as normal small clinics may not have the required equipment or medicines to treat black widow spider bite.
In case the person is not certain about the type of spider bite, then following first aid procedures are advised before a doctor is consulted. They include:
- Wash thoroughly the affected area with water and soap.
- Ice packs can be applied on the bitten area; it will give relief. Also painkillers can be taken to lessen pain. However, children should not take aspirin.
- The bitten area should be kept in an elevated posture. If black widow spider has bitten in leg or arm, then bandage can be tied above the affected site. It should not be tied too tight as that can prevent the flow of blood.
Severe instances of black widow spider bite may need hospitalization. Subsequent treatment may include the following:
- Antivenin is administered to undo the poisonous effect of black widow spider bite. This might lead to severe allergic reaction, therefore, the physician initially checks for the presence of any allergies in the patient.
- Muscle relaxant injections can be given to alleviate muscle pain due to black widow spider bite
- Prescribed pain killers can be taken to reduce pain
Black widow bite pictures