Spider Bites and Insect Stings

Insect bites and stings generally are nonserious. Insect bites may be divided into VENOMOUS and NONVENOMOUS.


1. Bees

2. Wasps

3. Hornets

4. Fire Ants

5. Black Widow Spiders

6. Brown Recluse Spiders

7. Tarantulas


1. Local skin reactions

2. Risk of allergic reactions (discussed at the end of this section)

The local skin reaction (excluding spiders which will be discussed separately) consists of mild localized swelling, pain, redness, and occasionally itching.

Stings and bites to the face may cause more pronounced swelling due to the location. TREATMENT involves ice packs to the site, elevation of the affected area, and antihistamines (Benadryl) to aid in reducing swelling and itching. It is important to realize that antihistamines can cause sedation, so precautions must be taken. Topical creams (Calamine or Caladryl) may also be helpful. Sites must be cleansed and observed for infection, which often occurs several days later.

SIGNS OF INFECTION: increased pain at the site, red streaks, increased swelling, redness or discharge from the wound. Oral antibiotics will be necessary in these cases. Tetanus immunization must be within 5 years to be up to date.


Most common household spiders cause a nonserious bite. Local care as described above would apply. Two spiders, more notorious due to their venom, require special consideration.

BLACK WIDOW SPIDER - The bite of the black widow spider is rarely a fatal bite. This spider is glossy black with a red hourglass shape on the underside. SYMPTOMS include an initial burning pain at the site (more frequently reported in children) and this is usually followed by more generalized symptoms 2 to 12 hours later which are: limb paralysis, muscle spasms, muscle pain, and abdominal pain in those people bitten on the lower extremities. Children are more severely affected, owing to their much smaller size. Nausea and vomiting can also occur.

TREATMENT involves the administration of calcium intravenously. This can dispense the pain quite dramatically, however, readministration is likely. The need for antivenom is quite rare, but available in extreme cases.

BROWN RECLUSE SPIDER: This somewhat nondescript spider is often difficult to recognize. It is brownish to tan in color and has a fiddle-shaped marking on its back. Reactions to the bite of the brown recluse range from mild to severe.

Minor pain at the site is usually present initially. This is followed within hours to days by an area of redness or bruising. The center of this lesion will usually form a deep ulcer which scars. Skin grafting may be needed at a later date to reduce scarring. The Plastic Surgeon is the expert in this area. Antivenom is not currently available.

TARANTULAS: Due to their appearance these animals have the reputation of delivering fatal bites. In reality, their bites only cause a mild local reaction in humans. The supportive care outlined above would suffice. Rarely do they cause allergic reactions.


The BEES (honey and bumble), WASPS, HORNETS, and FIRE ANTS cause most of the problems here. Reactions vary from generalized itching with hives (urticaria), to lip and facial swelling with asthma-like symptoms. Tongue swelling, upper airway swelling, or precipitous drops in blood pressure can also be seen in the more severe reactions. All these reactions are EMERGENCIES.

Treatment is urgent, particularly for the more severe reactions. Antihistamines (Benadryl) are given to reverse the reactions. Other stronger injectable medications may be necessary (adrenalin). People with a known allergy to bees may carry a bee sting kit containing the pre-prepared adrenalin shot. These cases must be seen by a doctor IMMEDIATELY.

Hospitalization is usually not necessary, as the reactions usually reverse quickly with proper treatment.


Mosquitoes, flies, fleas, etc. require no special care. Itching may be controlled with antihistamines (Benadryl). Observation for signs of infection still apply.

Hope this article will provide you information about spider bites and insect stings .

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12 Foot Injury Toe Fracture and Sprain
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Abdominal Injury
Abdominal Injury: Contusion
Animal Bites
Ankle Fracture
Ankle Injury
Ankle Injury: Contusion
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Back Injury
Back Injury : Sacrococcygeal Injury
Back Strain
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
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Chest Injury: Aortic Rupture
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Chronic Back Pain
Clavicle Fracture
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Gunshot Wounds
Hand Injury: Fingertip Amputations
Head Injury
Liver Injury
Marine Stings
Muscle Strains
Rib Fracture
Ruptured Spleen
Shoulder Injury: A-C Separation
Spider Bites
Spinal Cord Injury
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Testicular Injury
Wrist Injury
hi Scuba Related Injuries
i Hand Injury Finger Amputaion
de Lecerations
de Cold Injury and Hypothermia
dd Dental Injury
xs Facial Injury
sdf Neck Injury
e Shoulder Injury Dislocation
e Ear Injury
ed Elbow Injury
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dfe Elbow Injury Nursemaids
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ed Facial Injury General Considerations
fr Facial Injury Contusion
ed Hand Injury Finger Sprains
ded Fingernail and Toenail Injuries
dd Hand Injury Fractures
23 Head Injury Skull Fracture and Concussion
44 Chest Injury Myocardial Contusion
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