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How to treat spider and scorpion stings in the wild.

Black Widow spider

If you are bitten by a spider in the wild, there are a few things you should do to help the situation:

  1. Stay Calm – Panic can cause your heart rate to increase, which can spread the venom throughout your body more quickly.
  2. Identify The Spider – Try to identify the spider that bit you if possible. This will help medical professionals determine the best course of treatment.
  3. Clean The Bite – Wash the bite with soap and water as soon as possible to help prevent infection.

Remember, not all spider bites are venomous, and most are not dangerous. However, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and seek medical attention if you are unsure.

Treatment for a Black Widow Spider bite

Black Widow spiderThe black widow spider is identified by a red hourglass on its abdomen. They grow to about 1/2 inch long and have a shiny, black, globular-shaped abdomen.  Only the female bites, and it has a neurotoxic venom. The initial pain is not severe, but severe local pain rapidly develops. The pain gradually spreads over the entire body and settles in the abdomen and legs. Abdominal cramps and progressive nausea, vomiting, and a rash may occur. Weakness, headache, dizziness, tremors, sweating, salivation, and increased blood pressure may occur. Anaphylactic reactions can occur. Symptoms may worsen for the next three days and then begin to subside for the next week.

Treat for shock. Be ready to perform CPR. Clean and dress the bite area to reduce the risk of infection and apply a cold compress.  Keep the affected limb to about heart level. Do not try to suck out the venom (it does not work).  An antivenin is available.

Treatment for a Funnelweb spider bite

Australian Funnel Web spiderThe funnelweb spider is a large brown or gray spider found in Australia. The symptoms for its bite are as for the black widow spider.  The bite can cause tingling or numbness in the mouth or lips within 10-15 minutes.

The treatment for a bit is basically the same as for a black widow spider bite.  Apply a pressure immobilization bandage and possibly a splint to keep the bite area still to lessen the spread of venom.  Seek medical help for antivenin.  Patients can die within hours.

Treatment for a Brown Recluse spider bite

Brown Recluse spiderThe brown house spider or brown recluse spider is a small, light brown spider identified by a dark brown violin on its back. There is no pain, or so little pain, that usually a victim is not aware of the bite. The initial bite may leave a small, white blister.  Within a few hours, a painful red area with a mottled cyanotic center appears. Necrosis does not occur in all bites, but usually in 3 to 4 days, a star-shaped, firm area of deep purple discoloration appears at the bite site. The area turns dark and mummified in a week or two. The margins separate and the scab falls off, leaving an open ulcer. Secondary infection and regional swollen Brown Recluse spider size compared to a penneylymph glands usually become visible at this stage. The outstanding characteristic of the brown recluse bite is an ulcer that does not heal but persists for weeks or months. In addition to the ulcer, there is often a systemic reaction that is serious and may lead to death. Reactions (fever, chills, joint pain, vomiting, and a generalized rash) occur chiefly in children or debilitated persons.

There is little that can be done to treat the regional spread of venom.  Treat with antibiotics.  Apply activated charcoal to the wound.  Other medicines that may help include basil plant oils (internally and externally), MSM (internally and externally), and high doses of Vitamin C (internally and externally).

Treatment for a Tarantula spider bite

Tarantual spiderTarantulas are large, hairy spiders found mainly in the tropics. Most do not inject venom, but some South American species do. They have large fangs. If bitten, pain and bleeding are certain, and infection is likely.

Treat a tarantula bite as for any open wound and try to prevent infection. Wash the wound and apply meat tenderizer.  Apply a cold compress to reduce swelling.  If symptoms of poisoning appear, treat it as for the bite of the black widow spider.

Treating a Scorpion bite

ScorpionScorpions are all poisonous to a greater or lesser degree. There are two different reactions, depending on the species:

  • Severe local reaction only, with pain and swelling around the area of the sting. Possible prickly sensation around the mouth and a thick-feeling tongue.
  • Severe systemic reaction, with little or no visible local reaction. Local pain may be present. Systemic reactions include respiratory difficulties, thick-feeling tongue, body spasms, drooling, gastric distention, double vision, blindness, involuntary rapid movement of the eyeballs, involuntary urination and defecation, and heart failure. Death is rare, occurring mainly in children and adults with high blood pressure or illnesses.

Treat scorpion stings as you would a black widow bite.  Wash the area and apply a cool compress.  Keep the affected limb at heart level.

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