What do you do if a spider bites you?
Spider bites are a common in Australia especially in the warmer months, and a common reason for presentations to our Emergency Departments. Despite popular belief there is no evidence that they cause skin breakdown with ulcers or sores.
There are many types of spider that bite but only two groups that cause significant concern – Redback Spiders and big black spiders that raise concern for a Funnel Web Spider bite.
Redback Spiders are commonly found around piles of logs, in sheds or under BBQs. Their bite is often not felt at the time and symptoms develop a short period after. Classic symptoms are sweating around the bite and hairs standing on end with a throbbing pain that may not be just where you were bitten.
What to do?
- These bites are not life threatening even if untreated.
- Do not place a pressure immobilisation bandage. (PIB)
- Simple treatment with painkillers such as paracetamol is usually all that is needed.
- If pain is sever consider going to hospital for assessment.
- An antivenom is available in certain circumstances but it is rarely used.
There are lots of big black spiders that bite, the most significant of these is the Funnel Web Spider (FWS). As identification can be difficult it is best to treat them all the same. FWS are big and aggressive and are rarely but potentially fatal.
First aid involves calling NSW ambulance and placement of a pressure immobalisation bandage.
Once at hospital a period of observation will commence and painkillers administered as needed. If you become unwell treatment with the antivenom will be considered as part of your care.