Spiders and humans have one thing in common—they like to avoid each other! For this reason, harmful bites from spiders are, thankfully, very rare. In the upstate, spiders are numerous but only a handful are potentially harmful. The two types of potentially harmful spiders in North America, and therefore the Upstate, are the infamous black widow spider and the troublesome brown recluse (black widows are however thought to be the more common of the two in this area of the country).
Before we cover what to do when your child is bit by a harmful spider, let’s first go over a few ways to avoid them in the first place…
Avoiding Spider Bites
- Eliminate any wood piles and other debris from your yard. In general, most spiders like to nest in cool, dark, quiet spaces.
- Dress your child in long sleeves and gloves if they are cleaning (or playing) in dark, untouched areas around your home or yard. As stated above, these are the areas most likely to have a spider present.
- Educate your child about spiders and where they are likely to be lurking. No need to make this dramatic, just casually inform your child to be on the lookout and definitely encourage them to tell you if they get a spider bite.
Now, the good news is that the majority of spider bites cause mild, localized symptoms such as redness and itching (even the majority of black widow bites and brown recluse bites fall into this mild category). That said, as a parent, you still want to know what to look for if your child is bitten…
What To Do if Your Child Gets a Spider Bite
- Typical bites require only local wound care and pain control. Wash the area with soap and water and then apply an ice pack every few hours to alleviate swelling. If your child is complaining of pain, feel free to give them some Tylenol or Ibuprofen (dosage chart lives on our website if you need it).
- Black widow spiders produce a neurotoxin which can trigger numerous effects throughout the body. So, occasionally, their bites can lead to symptoms that would require medical care beyond simple first aid. If you believe your child was bitten and is experiencing muscle pain, severe abdominal pain, shaking, weakness, tingling, headaches and/or vomiting, please call us immediately. We will likely want to see your child for an appointment but we can also talk you through some simple evaluation measures.
- The brown recluse spider is well known for the quarter-sized necrotic wound sometimes found at the site of its bite. Effects on the blood or other parts of the body with the brown recluse are rare, but possible. Again, please call us if you think your child has been bitten and is having any swelling.
If there was one conclusion I drew from preparing this information, it’s that those with arachnophobia should feel pretty safe living in the upstate.
That said, accidents do happen, so if you fear your child has been bitten and/or is having a strong reaction to a bite, do not hesitate to call us!
Until next time,
Dr. Todd Roemmich