Home Remedy for Spider Bite

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Most spider bites are harmless and require little or no treatment, except perhaps an antiseptic swab or anti-itch cream. However, there are four types of spiders commonly found in much of the United States whose bites can have more drastic effects and infections.  The four spider bites most individuals need to be especially wary of are those of the black widow, the brown recluse, the hobo spider, and the yellow sac spider.

File:Brown-recluse-2-edit.jpg

Brown Recluse Spider – Wikipedia

The brown recluse spider is native to the United States and found mainly in the central Midwestern states southward to the Gulf of Mexico (see map).  It is also called the fiddleback spider due to the dark violin shaped marking appearing on the spider’s back.  

At our country home, we’ve had our share of insect bites and I’ve been bitten by a brown recluse spider twice before.  Both times the bite grew to golf ball size, became infected and required a trip to my Dr. for wound debridement and a round of  antibiotics.  In both instances, I was left with an ugly dark-colored scar.

About a week ago, my 21-year-old daughter Caitlin showed signs of being bitten by a brown recluse spider.  The spider is not aggressive and will only bite if it feels threatened.  They like to hide in dark snug places and will crawl into clothing left on the floor, and occasionally will get into your bedding.

Brown Recluse Bite Symptoms

Brown recluse spider bites often go unnoticed initially because they are typically painless bites.  Symptoms usually develop two to eight hours after a bite.

Victims may experience these symptoms:

  • severe pain at bite site after about four hours,
  • severe itching
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • fever
  • muscle pain

Initially the bite site is mildly red and upon close inspection may reveal fang marks. Most commonly, the bite site will become firm and heal with little scaring over the next few days or weeks.  Occasionally, the local reaction will be more severe with reddening and blistering, sometimes leading to a blue discoloration, and ultimately leading to a necrotic lesion and scarring. Signs that may be present include:

  • blistering (common),
  • necrosis (death) of skin and subcutaneous fat (less common)
  • severe destructive necrotic lesions with deep wide borders (rare)

Caitlin initially presented with reddening of the skin, severe pain at bite sight, severe itching and mild blistering.  After doing some research, I decided to create the following home remedy:

Aspirin
Vodka
Baking Soda
Gauze Pad
First Aid Tape (for sensitive skin use the paper type)

I melted 1 aspirin in 1 teaspoon vodka.  Then added enough baking soda to make a thick (toothpaste consistency) paste.  If the paste is too thick, add more vodka.  Gently apply a thick coating of the paste on and around the spider bite.  Cover the area with a gauze pad and tape in place with first aid tape.  I repeated this treatment morning and night for about three days.  Within the first 8 hours the pain and itch had greatly subsided.  By the third day, the bite had opened and the venom began to ooze out in a clear/bloody discharge.  (If at anytime the bite showed signs of infection, I would have promptly taken Caitlin to our Dr. for treatment.)  The bite was still somewhat red and you could feel a lump under the skin about the size of a large marble, but there was little to no pain.  Once the bite opened and drained, I stopped using the paste and started using triple antibiotic ointment.

Now, a little over a week later, the wound is completely healed and doesn’t show any signs of scarring.  I’m sure this remedy would work on most painful insect bites.

Disclaimer: You can use home remedies to treat spider bites, but if bitten by a poisonous spider, it is highly recommended that you also seek medical attention to treat the spider bite before your symptoms get worse.

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15 responses »

  1. I believe in home remedies as a first defense before heading to the ER or doctor’s office, but I had never heard of this one. And I think I have a little Vodka in my bar. Thanks for sharing! Son with bitten a few years ago by a recluse and it was nasty! My mother was a great believer of home treatments. I should write some of hers down. Take care! Well written.

    • I love old home remedies and folk cures. I bet your mother had some great ones. My mom said her mother would give them kerosene and sugar for coughs. I think I’ll skip that one and just stick with honey and lemon or robitussen. 🙂

  2. I will definitely keep this recipe/treatment handy for spider bites. Lori, you are just a font of wisdom. Thanks for sharing. Do you think ingesting the Vodka would help too? 🙂

  3. I’m glad to see that recluses don’t always mean severe necrotic tissue. That has been my info and has caused me fear of the yucky things. We get more black widows here. And now apparently there is a brown widow on the loose in the US. Fun.

    • I think some people have more severe reactions than others. Both times I was bitten, I did experience an infection and mild necrosis. I wish I would have tried this remedy to see if it worked as well on me. I haven’t heard about the brown widow. I’ll have to look it up. Thanks for stopping by!

      • Brown widows are a new USA visitor–well, not really visiting, but here to stay. The good news is they like to kill black widows, the bad news is there are a lot more of them. But I hear their bite is not as toxic on humans.

  4. Poor Cake! How is she feeling now?

    This is a wonderful post, Lori. I’ve been lucky in that I have never suffered a serious bite from a spider; though recently I have found a ton in our bedroom. Ick! I know they are likely just trying to survive the heat like the rest of us, but I wish they would find OUTside.

    That picture at the top literally made me shudder . . . . not a pretty spider, if there is such a thing. I am so glad you were there to address the bite and administer healing, organically. Anytime a home remedy can be used, versus prescriptions, which, as of late I have learned surprise its subscriber with a host of side-effects, I am ALL for it.

    I hope the bite’s effects are all but gone by now and hopefully no more bites will need to be tended to!

    Xoxox,
    ~ C

    P.S. How’s the workout regiment coming along? Been thinking about you!

    • She is great. She keeps me laughing. The bite was on her bum and she said “mom, this better not scar – that’s my money maker!” Silly girl. 🙂

      Scott and I have had what we are calling the chicken flu. A couple of our chickens got some kind of cold then the next week Scott and I got sick. I’m almost over it but Scott is still coughing his head off.

      So good to hear from you! I hope you are sleeping better. I think about you daily and will keep you in my prayers.

      Much love!

  5. Your map is a little misleading since it would seem to indicate that we have brown recluse spiders here in California since your blog post is about them. We don’t. Not yet. We do have desert recluse. There have been two instances of a single brown recluse being found, both at ports of entry and, I believe, on bananas.

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