Spider Bites: What To Do If You’ve Been Attacked By A Spider
Webs, White-Tailed and Mouse, these are just some of the varieties topping out Most Deadly lists, scaring tourists with tales of monster bugs and giving locals something to be paranoid about, should they put their hand or foot in the wrong place.
We’ll let you in on a little secret… nobody has died from a spider bite in Australia since 1979, a year before the funnel-web spider antivenom was released. In fact, a spider bite is not classified as a notifiable emergency, meaning no official data is collected upon by the government to give us bite-rate statistics. It’s just something that happens.
Did you know… although a spider bite may shock or scare you, very few spiders inject any venom, leading to what we call a blank bite.
What Does a Spider Bite Look Like?
Identifying spider bites when compared to other insect bites is easy if you’re not bothered by the specifics of the species. Most bites resemble two puncture bumps that may swell, itch or get a little red. They can hurt, but only for a short time, similar to a bee sting… unless you’ve been nabbed by one of the two fatally poisonous spiders in Australia.
Spider Bite Symptoms
Red Back Spider Symptoms
- Strong, consistent pain at the site of the bite, followed by sweating 5 minutes after the incident occurs. It is common for the patient to be sweating profusely until treatment.
- Swelling that begins at the bite and over the rest of the body within 30 minutes.
- Nausea and vomiting, in addition to a headache 60 minutes following the bite.
- Dizziness, abdominal pain and loss of muscle control may also be factors.
Funnel Web Symptoms
- Immediate severe pain at the bite site
- Nausea, sweating and abdominal pain 5-10 minutes following the bite.
- Breathing issues and heavy coughing, followed by muscle weakness or numbing
- Redness around the bite
- Itching and swelling
- Pain that lessens over time
- Nausea, vomiting, and headache
- Skin necrosis (wolf and white-tailed spiders)
Spider Bite Treatment
Figuring out how to treat a spider bite correctly until you can get to the nearest hospital (in the case of Redback or Funnel Web bites) or your local doctor (other spider bites), will depend on which spider the offending fangs belonged to. Not every bite should be treated the same!
Sydney Funnel Web and Mouse Spiders
- Dial 000 for an ambulance.
- Keep the patient calm and immobile. Encourage them to relax and reassure them help is on the way.
- Apply a pressure immobilisation bandage to the affected area, wrapping the entire limb firmly, around the same tightness as a sprained ankle.
- Using a second bandage, secure a splint to the bitten limb.
- Collect the spider for assessment if there’s a risk to you.
Redbacks and Other Spiders
- Keep the patient relaxed and encourage them not to move. Be reassuring and avoid panicking.
- Apply an ice-pack wrapped in a soft cloth to the bite zone to help minimise swelling and pain around the bite.
- If it’s safe to do so, try and collect the spider to an accurate ID.
- Take the patient to the hospital immediately. Or, if you’re really worried about their symptoms, dial 000 straight away.
Fact: It’s almost impossible to identify what species of spider bit you based on the marks alone.
The best way to prevent a spider bite? Control their numbers with Canberra Pest Control and minimise the likelihood of running into an angry little guy when you least expect it. Prevention is always better than antivenom!