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Spider Bite? Here’s How To Treat It



Feature | Spider Bite? Here's How to Treat It.

Spider bites can be deadly and painful. It is important to be able to recognize spider bite symptoms quickly after they appear and to be prepared to treat them. Starting spider bite treatment immediately can make all the difference. By learning how to recognize spider bites and reading a little advice, you can be way ahead in the event you get bit.

How to Handle a Spider Bite

In this article:


How a Spider Bite Might Happen

This weekend, while I was enjoying a nice warm morning at the car wash, I was suddenly reminded of how terrifying spider bites can be. I was relaxed and enjoying a coffee when all of a sudden I felt a slight tickling sensation across my right shoulder. I reached over to the area and quickly grabbed and twisted.


I shuddered as I rolled the little invader out of my shirt. To my horror, it was a brown recluse. I have stared a bull in the eyes and brushed off a coral snake, but spiders freak me out. I don't know why, but I have always been terrified of them.


Urgent, This is Not a Test..

The Emergency Broadcast logo flashes up on your TV screen. You try to click off but it’s on every channel..

That's when you realize… this is not a test.

A News Anchor comes on screen and in a shaky voice says….

“At 9:15 this morning, the U.S dollar Collapsed… I repeat the dollar has Collapsed.

The entire infrastructure of America is now a prime target of opportunity for ANY terrorist attack.”

The T.V. suddenly shuts off; moments later, your entire neighborhood goes dark.

You're going to be OK though.

This is the moment you've prepared for… Right?

For everyone living in the U.S., I have good news:

How to Recognize a Deadly Spider Bite

The brown recluse is found in the southern two-thirds of the country. It likes to hide in boxes, books, and other hard to reach places.

The hobo spider likes it out West. You can find the black widow in every state except Alaska.

Here are a few tips on how to identify a spider bite.

Evaluate the Pain

If you feel pain when the spider bites, it’s likely a black widow spider bite, whose bite is often but not always painful. You may also develop severe body aches and fever.

A brown recluse spider bite is a slight sting at best. Most of the time you feel nothing. They hide in or under boxes, under your bed sheets, in your clothes. The first you know about it is the pain that develops several minutes to hours after the bite. As a brown recluse spider bite progresses it takes a nasty turn.

This is the eschar—the black, leathery, dead tissue—that can form over the wound.

A hobo spider’s bite feels similar to a brown recluse’s, and the pain also occurs minutes to hours after the bite.

Look at the Skin Damage

That is the key to the brown recluse spider bite. You may not know when it bit you, but the bite area becomes red, blistered, or black. The area starts out small, and the redness spreads. A black spot of dead tissue develops in the middle of the redness. This dead tissue can be anything from small and superficial to deep and large—sometimes enough to warrant a skin graft when everything’s said and done. As the tissue dies, the area becomes very painful.

The hobo spider can cause skin damage, but less so than the brown recluse.

The black widow spider bite causes a red spot that’s sometimes hard to see. But while you may not see the spot, another symptom will be much more obvious: It can cause plenty of muscle aches and cramps throughout the body for one to three weeks.

How to Treat a Spider Bite

If at all possible, get to a doctor. If you can’t, consider the following:

For Black Recluse and Hobo Spiders:

Keep the wound cool and slow your breathing. This will help slow the venom’s spread: Apply ice, and keep the area at heart level or above.

Even though bites are rarely fatal, secondary infections can quickly turn so. The next step you need to do is make sure you do everything possible to prevent infection.

As the black layer of dead skin (eschar) sloughs off, treat the wound as you would any other, by keeping it clean and covered and applying antibiotic ointment or honey. Some large wounds take several weeks to heal. If it starts looking infected, you’ll need oral antibiotics.

Treat the pain with an over-the-counter pain reliever.

For the Black Widow:

If you think the spider was a black widow, take a pain reliever like ibuprofen or aspirin for the muscle cramps.

Within minutes to hours, a black widow bite can lead to severe chest and abdominal pain, mimicking appendicitis or a heart attack. It can make your blood pressure go up, and you may need treatment. (Possible signs include a quickened pulse and a flushed face.)

Don't Panic – It's Just a Spider Bite

If you can’t get to a doctor, rest to try to lower your blood pressure. If you have anti-venom, use it.

The good news is thanks to anti-venom, it is extremely rare to die from a spider bite and those that do typically have an allergic reaction or a severe secondary infection. That being said, I am still terrified of spiders and on occasion still, shake out my sheets before hopping into bed.


For some nightmare fuel (and more reasons to take care of a spider bite straightaway), here is a video from They Will Kill You:

Handling a spider bite is actually pretty easy, as long as you get medical attention as soon as possible. Furthermore, spider bites are rarely very deadly, so you have some time to seek care. However, don't shrug it off. You have seen the effects of a spider bite, and you don't want that to happen to you. Therefore, keep an eye out and always be aware of your surroundings, survivalist!

How do YOU treat a spider bite? Tell us your home cures in the comments section below.

Up Next: 7 Home Remedies For Spider Bites


The contents of this article are for informational purposes only. Please read our full disclaimer.

Spider Bite | Spider Bite? Here's How to Treat It.

Editor’s Note – This post has been updated for quality and relevancy.


Placard | Spider Bite? Here's How to Treat It.

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  1. James

    February 7, 2013 at 6:45 AM

    The best immediate treatment is to make a wet paste out of meat tenderizer and pile it up on the bite. The papaya enzyme will enter the bite and break down the venom before it has a chance to dissolve the tissue. The longer the tissue is in contact with the venom, the longer and more painful the recovery time.
    If the tissue does go necrotic black you must remove all traces of the black tissue every time you change a bandage. Keeping Neosporin on the bite will keep the bacterial invaders at bay.
    Using peppermint oil burns a little but is useful when debriding the bite of the dead tissue. Peppermint oil also has anti-microbial properties. Smells good too!

    • peppermom

      February 7, 2013 at 10:14 AM

      James you mentioned the meat tenderizer and the papaya enzyme. I was not clear about the papaya enzyme, do you take it or crush it and put it on the wound with the meat tenderizer? Great info I have always thought there had to be something that would neutralize the poison. Do you know anything about vinegar? I know if you put vinegar on a bite it stops itching does this mean it neutralizes poison also. Curious?

      • James

        February 14, 2013 at 6:45 AM

        Hi peppermom,
        The meat tenderizer IS the papaya enzyme and it is paste that goes on the wound. Sorry I wasn’t clear about that!

        • Adam

          September 2, 2013 at 3:15 PM

          The meat tenderizer is Adolphs. Many of the others do not include the papaya.

        • MICK J

          January 14, 2015 at 2:46 PM

          You were clear….

    • Hipockets

      September 3, 2013 at 4:34 AM

      Got what I thought whs a Mosquito bite while driving. It swelled,itched terrible, Had a red mark,with several teeth marks nearby, Black in the middle. Every few days,would have other teeth marks and would swell again. Finally concluded it was a spider bite. Every 7-8 days,it would start over again, after the 2nd go around,I put Retin A on the bite and it healed in 2 days. It repeated again 2 times,I repeated the treatment. After 6 weeks,it’s gone,but I have a small scar’ This remedy is something I just dreamed up to suck the poison out,but it worked’


    February 7, 2013 at 8:30 AM

    I was bit by a brown recluse last year. Thought it was a pimple, but did not act like a pimple. Went to the local health food store and the lady there took one look and identified it. They treat many each year. She put black salve (about a match head worth)and covered with a band-aid and told me to remove and clean lightly with peroxide. Clean and replace band-aid every day. After about 10-14 days the “sack” will come out and leave a hole. The hole will heal over time. There is some minor pain at the site associated with this for a couple of days, nothing unbearable though. The sooner you treat the better because the venom spreads and dissolves your tissue. The black salve isolates the dead and infected tissue, allowing the body’s natural healing to take place. This is the ONLY method to keep the venom from continuing to spread.
    Black salve is a “drawing salve”. If nothing is wrong the salve will NOT do anything, so nothing to loose. Black salve is also good to treat skin cancer, one spot at a time. Great survival remedy to have on hand.


      February 7, 2013 at 8:39 AM

      Leave the Black salve on for 24 hrs. before cleaning. NOT NECESSARY to put mote on after 1st application. After the sack comes loose clean with peroxide. DO NOT TOUCH SACK! After the sack comes out and healing starts another application of black salve MAY be needed if the venom had spread father than realized. Venom can “tunnel” through the skin, so treat sooner rather than later.

      • Carmen

        November 5, 2016 at 8:23 PM

        HI! Thanks for your comment. I am struggling with a spider bite on my neck for the last 4 weeks, I tried so many remedies like honey, apple cider vinegar, essential oils, and the wound seems to be slowly healing but the redness and itch it is still spreading. Is it too late to try the black salve? I am also on antibiotics.

        • Dee Hale Shear

          July 7, 2019 at 3:45 AM

          Its never to late for black salve. Clean the wound gently with water. Pat dry. Put a small bit of black salve on the wound and cover loosely with a gauze pad and tape. Always wear gloves when treating bites.

    • Ellen

      September 2, 2013 at 8:34 PM

      My chiropractor got bit by a brown recluse spider. A friend of his told him to use DMSO on it. The DMSO took care of the problem.
      As a former rural mail carrier I have been bit many times by a variety
      of spiders. I did not see what bit me once, but by the time I got home I had a red streak about 8″ running up my leg. I put DMSO on it
      when I check about 30 minutes later it had turned pink. I applied the
      DMSO a second time and when I looked again it was gone.

      • Hipockets

        September 3, 2013 at 4:37 AM

        Where do you get DMSO nowdays???Remember years ago it was peopular for a lot of things’

        • Janet

          September 3, 2013 at 5:36 AM

          Can get DMSO at my local health food store and also at APEX Hardware sold for farm animal use. Since it’s application is topical and not internal it should be safe for humans too.

          • Anonymous

            July 5, 2019 at 9:57 AM

            I got DMSO at the local Co-op.

    • Samantha

      September 3, 2013 at 12:42 AM

      We started using black salve in the tube decades ago. The first time we thought our son had a bee stinger in the side of his foot. Turned out to be a shard of glass that it drew out of the sore.
      Now we can only find the Ichthammol 20% in a jar at the feed and seed store. I got a 14 oz. jar for under $10.00 at a store called ‘The Stock Market’, in Conyers, GA, in Dec. 2009, and it’s still almost full.
      Works just as well and get a lot more for the money, a little goes a long way, and lasts forever. Use it for practically everything.

  3. Andy

    February 7, 2013 at 9:38 AM

    Got bit by a baby brown recluse back in the 70’s on Long Island, much further north than the map indicates. Entomologist at local aggie college identified it. Little to no damage to my skin as the spider was a juvenile. It bit me on the back of my left hand, between my thumb and index finger. I have to differ though about the pain mentioned. lt felt like someone was repeatedly jabbing me with a red hot needle. I had had my coat laying on the floor of a local luncheonette, beneath a pinball machine i was playing. Spider must have crawled in then. A few minutes later as i was taking my coat off in school, it bit me.

    Also, many years later a friend who owned the local fish store (pet fish), wasn’t paying as much attention as he should have been while cleaning a tank that contained a lionfish, amongst others. He got stung on one of his knuckles. Instant intense pain and swelling. Went to the local hospital who advised him to call the store, because they should carry antivenom. Wrong!!! Hospital contacted one in Australia who said it would take a few days to send the US some antivenom. The Australian hospital suggested the best immediate treatment was to submerge the hand/arm in the hottest water he could handle. The heat would destroy the proteins in the venom, that cause the damage. It worked for him!

  4. Judy Woodman

    February 7, 2013 at 11:00 AM

    A couple of years ago my sister was bitten by a brown recluse & used Tea Tree Oil & something else she could not remember to heal it. A Doctor confirmed it was a brown recluse bite. Last summer I got bit by one on my stomach. Never felt the bite but felt the venom moving & watched it for a minute or two. Instantly started getting sick. I had some Tea Tree Oil & saturated my abdomen around the entire area that I felt the venom. I did that everytime it started to bother me & then gradually was able to cover a smaller & smaller area each day. After a few days, I only had an area about 2″ in diameter to treat. I put the Tea Tree Oil on it as often as needed until the bite was healing. By doing this, it took several days for the wound to crater & it healed withing 2 or 3 weeks, leaving only a what looks like a burn area.
    I have found that Tea Tree Oil is one of the most useful items to have in my First aid supplies. It treats fungi, bacteria, just about anything.

    • Justin

      July 1, 2013 at 4:56 PM

      you could feel and watch the venom move?

    • james

      September 2, 2013 at 8:22 PM

      where can you get tea tree oil and black suave?

    • Hipockets

      September 3, 2013 at 4:43 AM

      My hair dresser just recommended I get Tree Tea Oil,as I’m going bald and it’s suppose to stop the process. Put a few drops in regular (cheap shampoo’) spendier shampoos don’t work’Have’nt been able to get the oil yet as live 75 miles from town,but worth a try’ Everything I’ve seen on here, I’ll get lots as seems to be a miricle thing that works for lots of problems’

  5. Jean

    February 7, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    We live in OK and we a few years ago had purchased a “sparker” to relieve pain (it is essentially the part of a spark plug that causes the spark), they had taken them off the market for a while but have seen them on Heartland of America and other catalog books again). We discovered that it works very well for spider bites including fiddlebacks, as well as mosquito bites etc. A physician here in OK had started using a modified taser to treat fiddleback (local term for brown recluse spider as there is a “violin” shapped brown spot on its back) bites as it interrupts the toxic poisons that cause the pain and damage. Another doctor found that it worked well even after 6 months to remove the pain that continued and helped it to heal naturally. There is also a herb called Plantain which we use in combo with the sparker, we make a wet/damp poltice of the herb and place on a piece of guaze and cover the spot that was just treated and tape to secure so that it stays moist without drying out. Leave in place for as long as possible but at least overnight. This pulls out any poison that might still be there. We have lived here in the country for over 20 years and have not had to go see a doctor for treatment of those pesky spiders since using the above treatment.

    • Janet

      September 3, 2013 at 5:41 AM

      Plantain is great for bee stings too. Husband got into a nest of yellow jackets and was stung several times before he could get away from them. A paste of plantain applied to each sting took the pain out and stopped swelling.

  6. RT

    February 7, 2013 at 7:30 PM

    Was bit by one of those little banana spiders (red one) and it hurt really bad. Put some “purification” oil on it and it did not get any worse but did last a day and no other problems with the bite. The purification oil is from Young Living Essential Oils and is recommended for spider bites. It is composed of 6 oils- Citronella,Lemongrass,Rosemary cineol,Melaleuca,Lavandin,Myrtle. These oils contain the following benefits: antiseptic,anti-bacterial,anti-spasmodic,purifying,vasodilator,sedative,
    anti-inflammatory,oxygen increasing,anti-infectious,detoxifier,tissue regenerator,expectorant. Have used it with with good results. I would recomend you use all remedies possible with spider bites and see a doctor quickly. This oil is a great first aid but do see a doctor ASAP

  7. Greg

    February 7, 2013 at 7:46 PM

    Missing from that list is a Yellow Sac Spider- It is in the brown recluse family- although not quite as poisonous.It is a tiny spider, but leaves a very nasty bite. A few years ago my son was bitten by a yellow sac spider several times over the course of a couple of months.

  8. Chuck

    February 7, 2013 at 10:05 PM

    The “black salve” that was mentioned above was most likely ichthammol ointment. It comes in a variety of strengths. This too is a remedy left over from my childhood days. It is still carried by drug stores. I am looking at a tube of 20% strength. It is a drawing salve and will pull out splinters and help cure skin infections. It will draw a boil. Apply it to a dry bandage, cover the wound. Change it daily. It is useful if you have to be on the move and can’t sit for half an hour and soak an infection. It is most helpful if you get a cactus spine in your skin that you can’t see to take out with a needle. It will draw the spine out. It may take a couple of days but never fails. It smells like tar.

    • Wondering Woman

      September 2, 2013 at 8:34 PM

      I believe the black salve mentioned above is different from ichthamol. It is made from the herb blood root

      For spider bites and snake bites, you can google electric shock therapy for snake bite.
      The original article I read on this advised not to use house current (use boat or car motor instead) for shocking around bite area. Not knowing how to disconnect spark plugs for using, I devised myself one that I keep in my dash by snipping the end you insert into the small appliance you want to run while in the car & stripping insulation off about 2″ from end. Of course the other end has to plug into the cigarette lighter in your automobile. I recently also altered the printer end of a computer printer cable the same way and figure it should be safe from a surge coming through since it is built to protect your printer from a surge,

      • Wondering Woman

        September 2, 2013 at 8:47 PM

        PS – Should have mentioned that article I read was in a sports magazine but written by a doctor practicing in a 3rd world country, who said he saw many snake bites and lost most of them because even when they brought the snake in with them, by the time they got the anti-venom needed, the patient had already died. He said he heard of a local bee keeper, who was still keeping bees, despite being allergic to bee stings and sought him out to ask him how he kept the bees from stinging him. The man’s answer was that he was very allergic to bee stings, but didn’t worry about getting stung because when a bee stung him he used electrical shock around the sting area and had no problems after using it immediately after the sting. The doctor tried the same treatment on his next snake bite victim and was elated to find that it worked and was even more elated to find that it made quite a difference when used several hours after the bite. Not sure, but think this was in Southern Outdoors magazine.

    • Samantha

      September 3, 2013 at 12:41 AM

      We started using black salve in the tube decades ago. The first time we thought our son had a bee stinger in the side of his foot. Turned out to be a shard of glass that it drew out of the sore.
      Now we can only find the Ichthammol 20% in a jar at the feed and seed store. I got a 14 oz. jar for under $10.00 at a store called ‘The Stock Market’, in Conyers, GA, in Dec. 2009, and it’s still almost full.
      Works just as well and get a lot more for the money, a little goes a long way, and lasts forever. Use it for practically everything.

  9. John G.

    February 7, 2013 at 11:52 PM

    40 years ago, while I was pursuing my Bachelors Degree in the Sciences, I took a Medical Entomology course. Dr. Penner, the instructor, chuckled when we got to Loxosceles reclusa, the Brown Recluse or Fiddle Back spider. The Joke was that the Medical Profession had NO CLUE how to treat it’s bite and insisted on just applying antibiotics and cutting away the dead tissue as the toxin migrated out and out and out and out and larger and larger and larger areas of necrotic tissue needed to be removed until, sometimes, a limb needed amputation. He then went on to inform us that the toxin of the Brown Recluse was an Alkaloid and simply needed to be Neutralized with a mild acid. He recommended either a regular black tea bag soaked in lemon or lime juice and applied as a compress and kept moist and periodically replaced until the wound healed, or, if the wound was on a finger or foot or some area of the body easy to soak, just put tea bags and lemon or lime juice in a bowl and soak the appendage and then use the tea bag soaked in juice compresses when you had to be away from the soak bowl. Do this early enough and never get the cratering or the blackened, necrotic tissue or any of the associated problems. Well, it’s been 40 years since then and the Medical Profession doesn’t appear to know any more than it did back then and I’ve had opportunity to test this treatment both on myself and MANY, MANY other people over the years and it has never failed to work. Saved one man’s foot that the Official Medical Profession had been slowly amputating for years every couple months. Man came to me for something else and his story came up, (he was limping and wearing a special shoe on one foot). Stuck his foot in a bowl with tea bags and lemon juice, changed it a couple times a day for a week and his foot healed, never to be carved on again by the fools with knives. They always treat symptoms and never address causes. The Alkaloid toxin just keeps migrating out and out and out, at the edges of the healthy flesh and will kill and continue to kill the healthy flesh until it is neutralized with a mild acid! By all means, if you’ve been to one of the pill pushers, continue the antibiotic regimen he or she has you on, as you don’t want an opportunistic secondary infection to set in and complicate things while you are healing but make sure to start a probiotic routine starting about 3 days before you come of the antibiotics (the pill pushers won’t tell you that either) or you’ll likely wind up back in their office with a dire case of Clostridium difficile, otherwise known as C.diff., a week after you come off the antibiotics if you’re not careful. I’ve posted this treatment again and again and again and taught enough people I would have thought it might have got back to the Keepers of the Keys Medical Profession by now but I think maybe they just enjoy slowly carving people away.

    • John G.

      February 8, 2013 at 12:07 AM

      Sorry, five lines up from the bottom should read “3 days before you come OFF the antibiotics…” not of the antibiotics. And you could use vinegar instead of lemon or lime juice but it’s a stronger acid than the juices and could be diluted a bit. Good Luck Folks!

    • Judy

      February 8, 2013 at 11:30 AM

      Thank you for this & for your candor on the Medical profession’s determination to push more & more drugs, anti-biotics, vaccines, etc. down us. I could write an entire book on this myself, especially in my dealings with some who call themselves Doctors. Thankfully there are some Doctors out there who still just want to do what is best for the patient & I have been blessed to find a few of them.

    • Shelley

      September 27, 2014 at 2:21 PM

      John G. I got a spider bite before going on a cruise. I live in ORegon so I doubt it was a brown recluse, but it was in an old dark attic. I didn’t think much of it, but now 6 days later on the cruise, the bite area has a 3″ wavy red line (poison streak) extending from the site of the bite and I have muscle aches, headache and very tired. I’m on a cruise in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. There is black tea and lemon on board. Is it too late? Should I pay the exorbitant fee to see the ship doc and get antibiotics or try the tea and lemon at this late date? Have no idea what bit me.

    • claire

      January 4, 2015 at 10:01 AM

      Thanks I was bit by a yellow sac spider and I am going to try this as they have me on cephalexin amd I am still swelling after being on it a couple of days.

    • xXJabbaXx

      June 27, 2018 at 3:54 PM

      Because it good for business. If you heal the person completely they won’t come back…How else are they gonna pay for the expensive brand name college they went to?

  10. paul krawic

    February 8, 2013 at 1:47 AM

    i was bitten by a black widow a few years ago and never sought treatment.yes the pain was brutal,but when i realized what had happened(i woke up with it,it got me in bed)i used an exacto knife with the fine point to cut the section between the 2 fang marks open and sqeezed from way down had already killed a bit of tisuue which came out as red and yellow mush.when a spider bites it also injects digestive fluids,that’s how they eat,all liquid diet.i opened the cut a little deeper than the bottom of the crater fro the dead tissue and used peroxide to dissolve and raise the dead tissue and what was left of the digestive fluids far as the venom goes after a few hours it’s all in your body.the effects everyone is describing is the digestive fluids doing their job dissolving tissue into a liquid the spider can drink out.the ball that was described with the recluse bite was most likely that bit of already dissolved tissue.i treated it many times that first day with the peroxideand ended up with a hole about as round as my little finger that i stuck my little finger into up to the first knuckle.the brown recluse bites and hobo bites spread way out and are much more shallow,the black widow bite stays smaller around and goes don’t show my area on that map,but in southwestern south dakota we every single breed of dangerous spider in the u.s. and when i had a normal monthly doctor visit a week later my doctor gave me information sheets on each one and what to do with each bite.she said that the venom can kill you but the biggest danger is the secondary infection from the necrotic tissue and that using the peroxide was exactly what she would have done if working the emergency room.the feeling from the venom was brutal cramps and pain as described for @ 4 days and it was also the worst acid trip you could imagine for about 5 doc said that the key is to keep removing necrotic tissue and keep sterilizing the wound which the peroxide also does.she also said that instead of covering it with antibio ointment that i should leave it open to the air as much as possible as long as it wasn’t presenting with necrosis.i think that covering it with the ointment for days traps any digestive fluids in the wound instead of allowing them to rise out with the dead tissue.i used to raise taratulas which can give a nasty but rarely fatal bite and that was also the directions of a doctor who specialized in dealing with people who raise venomous creatures for antivenin,btw it’s not anti venom,the correct term is antivenin.

  11. Kathy

    February 8, 2013 at 1:04 PM

    Using peroxide to get rid of the necrotic tissue may help, but don’t use it after there is no more necrosis. Hydrogen peroxide also destroys healthy tissue.

    • paul krawic

      February 9, 2013 at 3:55 AM

      i know peroxide well.i didn’t use it after the necrotic tissue was that point i switched to good old fshioned grain alcohol,it burned like hell,but it disinfected it and also helped it dry out.

    • John R

      September 2, 2013 at 11:48 AM

      Say what !!! Peroxide destroys healthy tissue? I have been told to soak my feet in a foot bath of peroxide. Is this bad?

  12. Mike

    February 8, 2013 at 7:34 PM

    I was a Pharmacy Technician in my past, but eventually I wore out my welcome in the field due to being late to all the different pharmacies I worked at. When it comes to pharmacy, it’s a small world and word travels fast.
    Point being, I needed a way to make ends meet so I instantly became a “Professional Landscaper” who on the same day started his very own company. In other words I started mowing lawns for money!
    One day I was working in some yard and when I was almost done I noticed that I had this funky itching on the back of my hand on the knuckle of my index finger, and it was driving me nuts with this itching that could not be satisfied for a second with scratching. After going to a friend’s house just to visit after work, I complained about the itching area and then noticed a small, pimple looking bump had formed in the spot so naturally I squeezed until it popped and let it be. The next day when I woke up I noticed that the area where I had been itching was now slightly swollen. I thought this to be kind of weird but figured that the pimple bump must of some how become infected so I did all the normal treatments and cleansing of the affected area and carried on. The next day it got more swollen and and started looking a bit scary and then I finally noticed 2 tiny dots right where the problem existed, and brilliantly realized that I must have been bitten by a spider while working! I got on the internet and started looking at cases of toxic spider bites and was really concerned when I saw some pictures of the people who had been biten by recluses with the nasty necrotic and black wounds the eventually lead to big holes in the part of their bodies. I couldn’t deny that the pictures of the wound in it’s early stages looked a hell of a lot like my swallon knuckle area. I then looked up treatments and read that antibiotics were part of the therapy. I obviously didn’t have any benefits and who has time to go to the er of the county hospital where the priorities are people that you never even see come in because the ambulance brought them in thru the special door where the gunshot victims are brought in. You might sit in there for 3 hours before you even see the nurse call anyone’s name to be seen. I waited for 8 hours one time with my finger bent and stuck all the way to the back of my hand, dislocated and was finally seen and treated in only 10 mintes with one shot and a yank I was good as new.
    So not wanting to go thru that crap I recalled that I had stashed some Keflex (cephalexin) capsules which had been dropped on the floor at work and instead of throwing them out, I took ’em home and put in my freezer, just in case. So I decided to give them a shot and if they didn’t help I would then go to the hospital.
    The next day I noticed improvement so I continued to take 500 mg every 6 hours until gone and by the end of the bottle I was back to my unswollen self!
    With the ease with which antibiotics alone seemed to cure me, I concluded that it must not have been a brown recluse that got me but whatever kind of spider it was, my knuckle didn’t seem to like it much.
    Later I read that the worst thing to do if you know its a spider bite and happen to have that pimple boil is to squeeze it until it pops because it forces the poison to go deeper into your body. I don’t know if that was why I had that reaction to the bite, since I had popped the pimple, or if it was just that since I had never had a spider bite me, I was unaware of the effects it had on me. And I have always caught and kept spiders as a kid and an adult. I reckon I was lucky to have not been bitten all this time.
    I don’t recommend anyone experimenting with antibiotics for any reason without knowing what they’re doing as misuse and overprescribing seems to have already rendered many of them useless over time and it sure as hell don’t help your immune system, taking them unnecesarily.
    Sorry for this not being very survivalistish but that’s my spider story.
    And Finally, the moral of this story is: Be on time to all your pharmacy jobs and you won’t end up mowing lawns and getting bit by spiders!

    • paul krawic

      February 9, 2013 at 3:52 AM

      actually as i said in my comment the venom is spread through your body within a few hours,so it wasn’t’s popping the boil/bubble/pouch that releases the digestive fluids to spread across new tissue,but in my case since i cut it and squeezed and flushed with the peroxide all within 3-4 min it didn’t have time to spread very probably had the same thing in that you already had been working with your heart rate up,so the venom was most likely completely absorbed.the one thing that my doc said was to not take antibios unless the necrosis started to become an infection,i.e. rapid spread of redness and swelling/itching after the irrigation and cleaning.i think that’s why she had me keep it uncovered to dry out.if you continually take antibios you end up creating antibio resistant organisms,so the less often the addition antibios supress your own immune system.

      • Mike

        February 10, 2013 at 5:10 PM

        I totally agree with your take on antibiotics Paul. And had I of known that it was a spider bite sooner, perhaps I might have acted before the infection set in. I’d like to think that should it ever happen again, I’ll be able to diagnose the situation sooner and act accordingly. Particularly after reading and participating in this forum.
        Thanks All!


        • paul krawic

          February 11, 2013 at 12:31 AM

          spider bites are more common than you would think,but it’s the big 3 that you have to sweat barring any allergies.there are more spiders here in s.d. than anywhere else i’ve ever lived and i’ve lived all over the i constantly get small welts from other less dangerous species as i have a dirt crawl space under a 125 year old house.when we moved in we had to remove over 20 black widows from the enclosed front porch.i actually had a blast doing it as i used to be an adrenaline junkie and am now crippled for life.but that being said i used to raise tarantulas,scorpions and non venomous snakes and lizards,and also used to trap and relocate opossums and racoons in the northeast where the rabies rate is extremely high so i know generally how to handle most should always avoid the antibios when you can and try the keep it clean and non necrotic action when possible.i got an antibio resistant infection a couple of years ago from a bad oral surgery and let me tell you that you don’t want to have to take the antibios designed for that purpose.usually if you can keep things clean your own immune system will take care of things pretty well.glad that my experience could be of help to you.

          • Justin

            July 1, 2013 at 5:16 PM

            Heh, ever been to Maine. Poisonous spiders are rare, (brown recluse came here in a package this spring) but as far as every other kind of non-dangerous spider they are everywhere here. Several years ago I was working in forestry, we were clearing lots on an island off the coast so some rich out of staters could build houses on it. Anyway I’ve seen a lot of narly spiders in my day, large wolf spiders, barn spiders, giant river spiders and all the little ones. Well this island contained some of the strangest spiders I’ve ever seen. There was a bunch of what appeared to be Wolf Spiders, they were very large and the fangs were visible from a decent distance away. They also had strange markings, the joints in the legs were capped in bright orange on each leg, the rest of the body was black/brown, these things were al over the place, most of them we saw just hanging out on the side of trees and they were aggressive, they would stare you down and lunge at you and jump from the tree.. Trees that we were cutting down and carrying and touching. Anyway, half way through the day I started feeling a little woozey and thought I must be to hot, and took a break to get a drink and cool down. Sitting on the back of the truck I was sipping some water and my belly started to itch badly, when I lifted my shirt it was a horrible sight, I have a slight allergy to insect bites, where as most people get a small pink bump or just and itch, I get large puffy welts that itch so bad I want to light them on fire. I had been bitten 5 times in different spots on my stomach, two little fang holes on each one, my entire stomach was one big thick welt, essentially it looked like I had a small beer gut but it was a welt. The skin crazy itchy and hot to the touch, and red. I went home and passed out not sure if I was tired or if it was because of the bites, but I woke up a few hours later and the swelling was gone, but the itch lasted about two weeks. So as you can see even non-poisonous spiders can pack a wallop.

          • Justin

            July 1, 2013 at 5:19 PM

            There was another time I was splitting wood for my father, I bent down to put a log on the splitter suddenly it felt like someone was putting a cigarette out on my calf, it was Maine’s notorious wolf spider. Boy did that bugger hurt like hell. That welted up real good to. That was when I was younger.

    • Hipockets

      September 3, 2013 at 5:05 AM

      HAHA’ We all make mistakes in our lives’ That’s how we are “SUPPOSE” to learn our lessons. Sounds just like the (Mosquito???) bite I had,but did’nt take antibiotics,Took over a month is get rid of the
      pain,swelling,teeth marks that kept comming back and Blisters,but I just used my head and after peroxide,alcohol,did’nt help, I used Retin A’ It cured it’ (Hope you don’t have to mow lawns forever’I have over 2 acres to mow,and getting too worn out and old to do it anymore’)

  13. Debbie

    February 9, 2013 at 7:31 AM

    From the Journal of Family Practice, an article by Paul K. Carlton Jr, MD, states that using an antihistamine such as Benadryl works very well treating brown recluse spider bites. Here is the article

    • Mike

      February 10, 2013 at 5:21 PM

      That is an excellent point Debbie and I’m glad you brought that up. In fact, antihistamines are good for all kinds of problems that cause the body to react by swelling, redness etc.
      Some other conditions where antihistamines are useful are: bee stings, mosquito bites, poison oak, rashes, etc.
      The first thing they taught us in Pharmacy class was about antihistamines and their mechanism of action. In the body, our cells contain histamine and when a toxin is introduced into the tissue, it works to break down the cell wall, which results in the histamine contained there-in to be released into the surrounding area. When that occurs the result is an allergic reaction (ie: swelling, redness, itching etc.) and the antihistamine neutralizes that histamine and helps to decrease those symptoms. Great point!

      • Hipockets

        September 3, 2013 at 5:07 AM

        Works for lots of people,but I am allergic to Benedryl,so don’t know what else would work’ Steroids?,I’ve had reactions to all,but Predisone’ Any suggestions????

  14. Larry Duncan

    February 9, 2013 at 7:53 AM

    This is what has happened to me and my spider bite. Two years ago this March I was bitten by some type of spider, on my right fore arm. At the time I did not know it was a spider bite. A friend who is a nurse, said I needed to get to a Doctor, it was a spider bite.
    I called Ohio State, made the appointment. My Doctor was on vacation, so his partner saw my arm. She sent me for x-rays, MRI, Cat scan, and started treating me for high blood pressure. Six to eight weeks have now passed. By the time I am sent to see a surgeon, he looks at the bite, than tells me I have waited to long to see him. The venom has gone through my body. And there is nothing he can do for me now. But Doc, what about this lump under my skin, the size of a lima bean?
    So what can I tell you , what should you do? Make sure when you do see a Doctor, he knows how to treat a spider bite!

  15. Leonard Urban

    February 11, 2013 at 1:01 AM

    Bacterial infections–including lethal Strep and Staph infections are sometimes the result of bites from spiders that are considered to be “harmless”. A guy in Belen, New Mexico about 7 or 8 years ago died from a spider bite he received at work–not from the venom, but from the infection that followed. Recognizing dangerous species is trickier than most people realize. There are four species of Black Widows in the US, with distinctive coloration/markings and a Brown Widow (Latrodectus geometricus), a Red Widow Latrodectus bishopi), and an equally dangerous cousin called the False Black Widow (Steatoda boreas). Also, 13 species of “Recluse” spiders that only vaguely resemble one another–a lot of variation in color, with the exception that they, unlike most other spiders in the US have only 6 eyes, instead of 8. Avoid ALL spiders big enough to bite you–there’s been practically no research on spider venoms (Google that and see what I mean)and those spiders presumed to be “harmless” are unlikely to have been proven to be so…

  16. jessica

    February 28, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    Sweetish Bitters at the natural health food store. It will heal the bite really fast.

  17. laurie

    July 1, 2013 at 5:45 PM

    You did not show any spiders in Maine? We have brown recluse here and I don’t know what else. However,some kind of spider got the back of my thigh and it left a huge,red bullseye rash that covered the entire back of my thigh down to my knee and extremely sore and swollen. The bite area turned black and too tender to touch and took well over 3 weeks too fade. I still have a scar months later. No insurance,no doctor. Covered it in the day with ointment but it really bothered it to do that,then let it air at night,,any idea what kind it was?

    • Hipockets

      September 3, 2013 at 5:13 AM

      Sounds more like a TICK bite,that causes a Bullseye’ It’s very dangerous and you should get tested to see if it’s Lime Disease’ Even though the marks are gone,it will stay in your body and destroy your organs eventually’I had the same symtoms and no Dr. would test me,as they said it was’nt in our area. Finally got a Dr. 15 yrs. later,that said I should have the test’ It turned out negitive,but I had all the symptomes’ Get tested,don’t wait’

    • Scott Carlton

      July 5, 2019 at 10:27 AM

      No, Laurie, you do not have Brown Recluse spiders in Maine… the bulls-eye reference does, indeed, is more indicative and diagnostic of a tick bite than spider bite. You do have a spider in Maine species is Coras juvenalis which has in my experience (validated ID) caused a wound much like Loxoceles but only in one instance.

  18. Dave

    July 4, 2013 at 2:35 AM

    Brown Recluse, or Fiddleback spiders inject a histamine/enzyme complex that is 2000 more concentrated than rattlesnake venom. A necrotic ulcer forms from the looping properties of the enzyme. Any antihistamine will destroy the poison within 20 minutes to an hour. I have helped 20 people to get almost instant relief from various stages of bite deterioration. Nyquil was originally a snakebite medicine that actually worked. Benydril tablets made into a paste also works. The new formula Nyquil-type products are a little weaker, but the combination of alcohol, pain reliever and drying agents help in addition to the antihistamine. Two treatments on a fresh bite, and it goes away. AMA refuses to address this treatment. Guess no big bucks to be made. Sad

    • Rob

      September 3, 2013 at 1:06 AM

      was wondering do you soak the bite in Nyquil or drink it ?and also the benydril make it into a paste and apply it to the wound,,just wondering if you use them both together or were you talking about separately .


    • Guardian

      July 18, 2014 at 10:26 AM

      This all makes complete sense! If bitten, your body goes into rescue mode because of the venom. If you’re allergic, your life certainly can be in mortal danger. Using the Nyquil and Benadryl combats allergic reactions because of the antihistamines…makes good common sense. Keep your head and don’t panic. A level head produces healing techniques while panic consumes time and energies.

      common sense.

  19. ron

    September 2, 2013 at 4:10 PM

    are all you people stupid? electricity denatures proteins which is what a venom is. a tens unit, car battery or extreme, a cattle prod will work fine.

  20. James Kitchen

    September 2, 2013 at 4:49 PM

    Everyone here has an idea of how to treat a brown recluse spider bite. I have known of people who have went to their doctor for treatment for a recluce bite and ended up losing some fingers or other body parts because doctors’ don’t know how to treat this bite without “terrible” complications! Here is what is supposed to be the best way to treat a brown recluse bite:: Clean the site and rinse with hydrogen peroxide. Make a poultice of “EPSOM SALT” and cover the bite with this and change it daily with a new application. Don’t skimp on the epsom salt mixture when applying the poultice. I have neve used this but people that I know swear that this is the best way to treat this spider bite. I have never heard of how to treat the other spider bites listed here.

  21. Saul

    September 2, 2013 at 5:55 PM

    I’m with you Joe, I hate freaking spiders. Did 9 combat tours in my 30 year career, they bothered me less.

  22. Great Grey

    September 2, 2013 at 10:12 PM

    Many spiders can’t bite through skin and that’s why they are considered nonpoisonous, but some are more poisonous than the ones that can.

  23. Dienekes

    September 3, 2013 at 8:37 AM

    Pet peeve: Not poisonous! You can eat as many as you like without harm. They are venomous.

  24. Rusty

    September 3, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    well I never thought I would get bit because I always thought I was a little to careful. well I live in Connecticut and was doing roofing, after 1 week of roofing in the retirement community my co-workers and myself were doing final clean up and nit picking the shrubs. I noticed that they have a lot of large jumping spiders 15 minutes later we were loading the trucks and I felt what seemed like a hot needle piercing my buttocks[left side] it instantly welted up the size of a silver dollar, but not before it bit me in 2 other places on my legs. the bites welted up and itched for 2 days, I did not take any meds, I just went home and showered then had a couple shots of bourbon and went to sleep. I did not have any other problems. oh by the way the jumping spider that bit me was the size of a nickel.

  25. Hank McGarrah

    September 3, 2013 at 12:29 PM

    My only son Mike, was working for the state of Nevada and was bitten by a recluse while out on the shooting range, a quack doctor that worked for the state, gave him antibiotics instead of removing the poison sac to save the state a little money. He put up with a non curable (according to other doctors) for about 7 years. In December of 2008 he came down with walking pneumonia around Christmas time and when he called me from Fallon NV, I live in Oregon, he sounded so bad, I made him promise to see a better medical staff in Reno, he promised that he would and would call me back. That was on Mon. Jan. 5th, he went in to Reno on Weds Jan 7th, he never called me back he died on the 5th when they tried to re-hydrate him. He died from blood clots breaking loose originated by the clots caused by the recluse spider bite, the damage never went away. He had an ulceration that never totally went away. Do not ignore any spider bite and do not ever take the word of a government doctor.

    • Joann

      December 2, 2014 at 12:54 PM

      I am so sorry for the loss of your son. I sometimes wonder about “government” doctors. Do they really care about the patient’s recovery? I am not sure I would totally trust them either. I was actually told that the Brown Recluse Spider did not exist in this area (Nevada). Again, I am sorry for your loss, I know it is a hard thing to bear. I wish you peace and comfort from friends and family. Most of all rely on the One who is above all, our Father and God. He is the only one that can be trusted.

  26. Ciana mead

    September 4, 2013 at 4:02 AM

    When I was 14, I was bitten by a brown recluse while napping, off from school with strep throat. I was on oral antibiotic so they said it shouldn’t be bad. Turned out I was allergic, so my arm swelled the size of my leg, and the pain was excruciating. It took 3 months for the crater to start to heal and I still have a scar and nerve damage. I don’t go anywhere without an epipen, and greatly appreciate all your help and info for the future. Bless you.

  27. marvin dean

    October 23, 2013 at 7:19 PM

    I am some five weeks into two bites on my lower leg. One about on the ankle and the other about mid calf. Most of the reddening is gone and they seem to not be getting worse but the necrosis is stinking. I almost died of MRSA a few years ago so am concerned. I am considering an iodine compress to clear it all out but would like some input.


  28. Mary Angela

    October 29, 2013 at 4:37 PM

    3 months ago I was bit by a spider. I had intense103 degree fevers for two weeks and my arm swelled up and a red bloch wrapped around my forearm. My Naturopathic physician, over the phone, told me how to treat it. He said to useTea tree oil with paper bandages to keep it moist and Homeopathic medicines, Tarantula cub and pyrogenium. About three weeks later, while doing yoga, I popped my elbow out of the joint of the same arm. At first I didn’t know what had happened, I thought it was joint pain,that the poison was spreading into my joints. My Naturopath suggested an x ray but I don’t have health insurance. After two weeks I figured out it was nursemaid’s elbow because I had done to my elbow before. I couldn’t straighten the arm. My son’s pediatrician manipulated the elbow in place last week and my chiropractor adjusted me, I had a nerve pinched in my neck, couldn’t hardly twist my neck for that same time. Well my arm is still so sore. I think the muscles have semi- atrophied from not moving them and from the poison. I didn’t want to use antibiotics and go to a normal doctor. My right arm feels so stiff and hurts so much in the morning, after it warms up it feels better but it doesn’t feel like my healthy arm. How long does it take a poisonous spider bite to heal 100% ok? any suggestions ?

  29. marvin dean

    November 10, 2013 at 11:36 AM

    Mary Angela,

    From my experience I believe we really do not come back 100%. How far we do make it back depends on many other general factors. Another forum stated to be patient it can take 2 or 3 years, as long as it is not getting worse it is geting better.

    Hope this helps.

  30. Art

    January 16, 2014 at 12:58 PM

    Please let me know if you have ever been bitten by an insect, in your sleep, on the eyelid..?

  31. Rock

    March 14, 2014 at 11:34 PM

    Back when I was a teenager about 40 years ago, I got a brown recluse spider bite. I just developed a huge blister, about the size of three half-dollars stacked on top of each other, then went to the doctor to find out what it was. The only thing he did was take a syringe, stuck the needle into the side of the blister and sucked the poison out of it. I don’t believe he prescribed any medication or gave me a shot of anything. He said it would simply have to heal on it’s own. The skin on the blister rotted off and looked like the picture of the arm above. We just kept it dressed with gauze and it proceeded to heal over naturally. Oh the good ole’ days of the small town doctor!

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  35. Rebecca

    August 14, 2014 at 2:03 PM

    Your map is wildly inaccurate… the 3 American species of Black Widow can be found just about anywhere between southern Canada, Oklahoma, Mexico and the West Coast, while the Brown Recluse frequents the Midwest and Southeast, though I also saw one in Northern New Mexico.

  36. velma

    August 26, 2014 at 8:06 PM

    We don’t have the black salve here but we do have a salve called prid salve and it will draw anything out of the skin it’s black in color and sMell like tar but it works great.

  37. Linda Bivin

    August 27, 2014 at 7:37 AM

    This worked for my bite from a brown recluse: In small amounts mix half – Epson salt, half – whole oats, add a little hot water to make a paste. Make a pack & place directly on bite, tape over and leave on over night, repeat as needed. With me, the black spot came off with the first patch. I used one more pack and that was it for me.

  38. joey

    September 4, 2014 at 4:20 PM

    creepy frank just CREEPY!

  39. Jennifer

    September 13, 2014 at 4:45 PM

    I was bitten by an unknown spider about 5 years ago and I still have two indentations on my face where it bit me .I live in the Adirondacks of NYS ,any idea what bit me?

  40. Ashley Lynn Congram*

    November 1, 2014 at 11:52 PM

    I got bitten by a certain spider when I just got home from work and doctors appt and when I get in it was on my neck I got these little red dots from it but his legs were big but the fangs and face were lightish red but I flang him off my neck because my neck really itchy and stings a lot so what should I do oh!! I live in Leominster Ma, 01453

  41. Duke

    December 1, 2014 at 9:54 AM

    I read where a guy in St.Louis says that many apartments there harbor the Recluse spider. He got bite a few times and has his treatment down-pat. He used dry ice applied to the wound, then took a wood burner art tool and cut around the wound removing the entire infected area (still small enough)of the skin. It left a little hole until it healed, but non the less got all of the poison removed. But who cares dry ice in your freezer?

  42. Ron

    December 2, 2014 at 1:29 AM

    You commented on keeping the bite location above the heart. I was under the impression that the bite area should be kept below the heart so as to make gravity assist in slowing the venom’s path to the heart.

  43. Chelsie

    December 5, 2014 at 9:49 PM

    I got bitten by a spider I never saw it it felt like a pin going in my leg. It got extremely hot an red and swollen. After a couple days it looked like it was going away. Now I have a small hole about the size of a pinky finger and all around in about 2inchs in every direction is black. Like idk what the hell is going on or what to do

  44. Tom in Tampa

    December 29, 2014 at 4:17 PM

    The latest and greatest treatment for spider (and other insect) bites is a new to be marketed (i understand) electronic pulse-zapper which evidently nuetralizes insect venom in one minute. Both my wife and I had gotten (confirmed) recluse spider bites over the past two years and this new Vzap portable device knocked it out in several minutes. It is a painless electrical pulse treatment about the the size of a TV remote control. Their hidden website is — Keep up the good work Joe.

  45. smithy

    February 10, 2017 at 12:45 AM

    The active compounds in Aloe Vera are anthraquinones, lectins, acetylated mannans, ploy mannans, and salicylic acid. The compounds anthraquinones have antibacterial properties whereas the phenolic compounds barbaloin, emodin, anthrone-C-glycosides, chromones, and anthracene exhibit antimicrobial agents.

  46. smithy

    February 10, 2017 at 12:47 AM

    Common salt is one of the best ways to draw the toxin out from the bitten skin part. It promotes anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.


    November 30, 2017 at 10:53 AM

    i have been bitten several times by brown recluse spiders and I use the North Pole of a Neo-Max magnet from Lyon Magnetic Health Products, just taped it over the bite,worked great. Any strong North Pole magnet would work. Also treated bee stings in the field with tobacco and saliva on the stings.

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  54. Tiffany Hohmann Boos

    July 15, 2019 at 11:29 PM

    That may have worked for a lionfish, but absolutely DO NOT do that for a BROWN RECLUSE bite. Heat makes the enzyme go WILD!!! Rather with a brown recluse, keep the bite cool with an ice pack to slow down cell destruction.

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