Even Nonpoisonous Spider Bites Can Be Dangerous

Nonpoisonous spider bites that swell, become inflamed, or do not heal, or that are accompanied by fever or rash, should be examined by a physician

Often the first sign that you have been bitten by a spider is a sudden sharp but brief moment of pain, followed by swelling and itching at the location of the bite.

The affected area should be thoroughly washed with soap and water, and swelling can be reduced with an icepack. But if the swelling gets worse, if the area of the bite is troubled by severe itching or pain, if you develop a rash, or if you become nauseous, feverish, or disoriented, then it is necessary to see a doctor.

Remember that any puncture wound, which is what a spider bite is, can become infected or can lead to tetanus. Staphylococcus and streptococcus bacteria, which normally are found on the surface of the skin, can be driven by a spider bite past the protective barrier that the skin provides.



A fever does not always accompany a staph or strep infection, but if a fever does develop after a spider bite, infection should be suspected. The appearance of a red "sandpaper rash" at and around the area of the bite, especially if the rash spreads, is a characteristic sign of strep infection. From a distance the rash makes the skin look flushed, but you can feel the bumpiness of the rash with your hand.

The treatment for a strep or a staph infection is a course of antibiotics. Because of the very real danger of such potentially serious infections, any spider bite should be watched closely, and you should seek medical attention for symptoms that go beyond local swelling or temporary pain or itching at the site of the wound, even if you are certain that the spider is nonpoisonous.

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