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Spider Bite, Spider Fright. Arachnids that Could Land You in the ER

In the Dallas area, there are two main spiders with bites that can cause significant injury or pain; the black widow and the brown recluse. The bites are very rarely fatal, but can cause significant injury and pain. These spider bites are rare and cause unique symptoms. Many people are misdiagnosed with spider bites when they actually have bacterial infections such as abscesses. The misdiagnosis can lead to incorrect treatment and worsening of the abscess.

The Black Widow spider

Is identified by its dark color and the typical marking of a red hourglass shape on the abdomen of the female. The male spider is much smaller and often has a red and white pattern and is not known to bite. A black widow bite can cause a small painful sensation initially and can sometimes go unnoticed. The venom of the black widow causes systemic symptoms, primarily severe muscle cramping. In cases of larger envenomation, the black widow bite can cause headache, severe abdominal pain, high blood pressure, nausea and vomiting.

The Brown Recluse Spider

The bite is diagnosed far more frequently than it actually occurs. The brown recluse has a smaller thorax and long legs. Commonly it has a violin shaped mark on its back. The initial bite is not known to be painful and often is not known to have occurred until other symptoms arise. Brown recluse bites can cause some systemic symptoms such as nausea and headache, but the main concern from the venom is its ability to cause local tissue necrosis (tissue death). The bite becomes itchy and painful over the next few hours. It has a centrally pale appearance with a surrounding ring of redness.The tissue affected begins to die over time and a large ulceration in the skin can occur. The necrotic ulcer can be very large and deep, taking months to heal and causing scarring.

There are other spiders in Texas that bite, such as the wolf spider. Wolf spiders are much more common than brown recluse spiders in this area. They are a large brown spider that does not build webs and hunts on the ground. Due to their brown, scary appearance, they are often mistaken as brown recluse spiders. Their bite causes local pain and swelling, but is not known to be dangerous or particularly harmful.

If you have questions and or concerns about a spider bite please reach out to us!