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Black Widow Spider Bite


The venom from a black widow spider is poisonous. Symptoms of a reaction to the venom start about 30 minutes after the bite. Symptoms are usually mild and stop within a few days, but severe symptoms that last several days are possible. Venom can spread from the bite to other parts of your body. It can damage your muscles, nerves, or organs.



You may need any of the following:

  • NSAIDs help decrease swelling and pain or fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's doctor.
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask how to take this medicine safely.
  • Muscle relaxers may be given to relieve cramps or spasms.
  • Antivenom may be given if your symptoms are severe or you are at increased risk. Antivenom can help slow or stop your symptoms.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Elevate your wound:

Elevate your wound above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop the bitten body part on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.

Apply ice:

Apply ice to your wound for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel before you apply it to the wound. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.

Wound care:

Care for your wound as directed. Carefully wash the wound with soap and water. Dry the area and watch for signs of infection, such as fever, redness, and swelling.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have increased pain or a change in how your pain feels.
  • You have a fever or a headache.
  • Your wound is red, swollen, or draining fluid.
  • Your eyes become sensitive to light.
  • You have pain when you move the bitten body part, or the part is difficult to move.
  • You get tender lumps in your groin or armpits.
  • Your symptoms spread from the bite to other parts of your body.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have severe abdominal pain.
  • Your wound turns blue or black and smells foul.
  • Your muscles become stiff and start to cramp or spasm.
  • You have tremors or trouble breathing, talking, or walking.
  • Your heart is racing.
  • You have chest pain, tightness, or heaviness that may spread to your shoulders, arms, jaw, neck, or back.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.