Jul 09, 2016
Nearly 99% of spider bites are harmless; however, some bites are toxic and can cause a variety of adverse effects on the body. In any case, appropriately treating a bite is crucial to eliminate any poison in the body and prevent further damage to the wound site. Individuals must also be careful when treating a suspected spider bite, as these wounds are often mistaken for MRSA-related boils.
What is a Spider Bite?
Generally, insect and spider bites cause limited inflammation, redness, pain and itching. Depending on the type of spider, a reaction may last a few hours to several days or even weeks. Toxic spider bites from that of a black widow or brown recluse involve a more threatening reaction that may include severe swelling, lightheadedness, fever and a necrotic sore.
Warning: If you believe that you have been bitten by a brown recluse spider, seek medical help immediately. Brown recluse spider bites 'eat away' at the skin, causing extremely high fevers and illness. These bites can kill you.
Home Remedies for Spider Bites
Neutralizing the bite and eliminating any toxins in the body is the first goal of treating spider bites. Many home remedies are effective for treating such wounds including baking soda, salt and activated charcoal. Other treatment options moisturize and replenish the skin to prevent damage at the site of the wound.
Baking soda is an effective treatment for several different kinds of insect bites. Mixed with water and made into a paste, baking soda can be applied to the site of a bite. The natural wicking ability of baking soda draws out the venom, reducing pain and inflammation.
Salt can also be used to effectively draw the venom out of a spider bite to treat such a wound. Salt also works to eliminate inflammation and redness at the site of the bite. This treatment also prevents infection.
Activated charcoal is another treatment option that can be used as a poultice for a spider bite or other insect bite. Activated charcoal has innate absorption characteristics that help it effectively draw out and remove toxic substances from the body. This treatment also helps eliminate inflammation and tenderness.
While the vast majority of spider bites are minimally harmful, some bites can cause substantial damage to the affected area and even the rest of the body. Treatments for such wounds focus on drawing the toxins out of the body and treating the site before it develops into a large wound.
Remedies for Spider Bites
I had a brown recluse spider bite last year, called the closest dermatologist office who never returned my calls, so, so I did some research and ended up making a paste of activated charcoal, applied it to the wound (after popping and draining the blister and removing the loose skin) for about 3 hours to neutralize the toxin; I also swallowed some of the activated charcoal (use capsules) to neutralize the toxins internally. Afterward, I used bentonite clay powder to make a paste and applied it to the wound to draw out the toxins, etc., changing it out 3-4 times daily until healed, which it did in about a week with only a light brown scar about the size of a nickel. I'm glad the dermatologist office didn't return my call and I'm glad I researched natural remedies.
Replied by Debbie
St. Louis, Mo
Posted by Elizabeth (Woodbury, TN) on 09/29/2006
We've used activated charcoal many times in our family and friends for the brown recluse spider bite. Even a couple of doctors here were amazed at what it did! We would make up a paste and change the first day about every 2 hours and then the next day just a few times and would keep watching it. Usually the bite was shrunk and just a little scab after a few days. Usually we would also drink some so that we would have any poison from the bite eliminated from our system.
EC: Read more charcoal cures here.
Replied by Heather
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Replied by Louwrence
Rustenburg, North West, South Africa
Posted by Bridget (Oklahoma) on 08/28/2013
We had been home treating 2 Brown Recluse bites my husband got on his shins for 10 days or so. One had become very purple/red and his leg/foot was swelling and about a 2 inch square of flesh around the 'crater' of the bite looked like raw hamburger/open wound that continued to leak clear/yellow fluid. I found a website about spider bites that mentioned a man's story who had been bitten numerous times over the years by recluses, he had finally ran into a vet that gave him 3 small injections with a tiny needle around the 'crater' of the bite with cortisone. He said it started healing immediately. I printed this out and took it with us to the hospital. The ER doc said there was not much he could do for it, that it would get worse looking before it got better, that the swelling/inflammation was not allowing the blood to flow to the wound, so the flesh was dying. He prescribed antibiotics. After he had finished with his diagnosis, I pulled out the pages I printed and asked him about giving my husband the cortisone (Dexamethasone) shots that the article spoke of, since there was nothing else he knew to do. He flatly refused and wouldn't even look over the article. VERY frustrating! We left and came home to sleep til the pharmacy opened next am. Before bed as I was dressing the wound again, my husband recalled that our Dr. had a while back prescribed some cortisone cream for a rash he had on his hand. Figuring it couldn't hurt, I cleaned the wound as usual with apple cider vinegar (it helps keep the skin alkaline, preventing the acidic environment needed for infection to proliferate) then applied the cortisone cream around the open wound, but NOT on it, and bandaged lightly as the wound was still oozing. We woke up several hours later to find most all the swelling was gone from his lower leg/ankle and the surrounding area that had been so purple/red had faded considerably. The Dr. told us the flesh around the wound was dying, and would fall off, due to the inflammation not allowing the blood to flow and regenerate the wound to heal. BUT, after applying the cream for the last 4 days, the swelling has gone down, and the wound formed a scab that fell off naturally to reveal new, pink skin underneath. The original "crater" of the bite is filling in and closing up quickly. I thought that perhaps if someone else runs into a stubborn Dr that refuses to give the cortisone shots, our experience might help them as well. The name of the cream we used was Betamethasone Dipropionate 0.05%. It was prescription, but I would think that any cortisone cream would have some healing effects to allow the swelling to go down and the blood to flow to the would to facilitate healing. This is the 4th time he has been bitten here in Oklahoma, if there is a next time we will be sure to take a Benadryl and apply cortisone cream ASAP! We never did get the antibiotics Rx filled (he gave us 2 kinds- one was Clindamycin, no way was he taking that! ), I applied iodine to the open part of the wound twice a day, I read on Earthclinic that it was used for infections before antibiotics were discovered, and it has healed much quicker than before I was applying it. I hope perhaps this will help someone else who has a bad spider bite.
Posted by Everett (Kitts Hill, OH) on 10/21/2006
I HAVE USED AN ASPIRIN SOAKED IN A LITTLE WATER TO MAKE A PASTE AND PUT IT ON A SPIDER BITE. YOU KNOW THEY ITCH PRETTY BAD, AND THE ITCHING STOPPED ALMOST IMMEDIATELY. HALF AN HOUR OR SO. I HAVE NOT TRIED IT ON BROWN RECLUSE AS I HAVE NOT BEEN BITTEN BY ONE OF THEM.
Replied by Kissa
Replied by Ben
Posted by Wanita (Las Cruces, New Mexico) on 12/09/2014
Thank You, I say hooray for baking soda!!!
I'm not sure about the kind of spider, I think I was bit in my storage unit moving things around. It first looked like a pimple and was very tender. I used "Prid" drawing ointment, but it got larger and so sore it woke me up . Then I used a green clay and Yerba Mansa poultice, it got bigger and still sore ... but began to swell into a boil. I took Ibuprofen and used some Benadryl gel on it ... no change. The center opened, but no distinct drainage noted and was the size of a quarter, so sore! And I had a low grade fever.
That's when I looked online, it had been 4 days of no improvement with my tried and true remedies for such things AND I had to go to work today (3 massage therapy clients) and had to get this under control ... too much to do, this is my right arm we're talking about .... eeeeeks!!!! ).
So I used the baking soda and oh how gorgeously effective it was. After three poultice applications and a good sleep, I awoke and have found the quarter sized boil to be painless, the redness smaller and no swelling. The inflammation is gathered centrally and the hole closed instead of open like an ulcer. When I had the 2nd poultice on it, it began to itch like crazy. I knew that was a good thing ... neuro-vascular activity no doubt!
I love you all! Thanks again, Earth Clinic is bookmarked in capital letters!
Replied by Manda
Posted by Babsinbloom63 (Louisiana, US) on 11/18/2014
Two weeks ago I got bit on my upper back 3-4 times at my daughter's house in Texas by what we now know was a Wolf Spider. I had killed one earlier that morning in my daughter's kitchen as my daughter has a 3 month old baby and she was afraid the spider would get on the baby. That night I went to bed and woke up with a tingling, burning pain on my back which later started itching also. Then hard, swollen welts developed which quickly formed pimple like heads. I had a total of 4 of these all confined to a small area of my back. I put some neosporin and benadryl spray on them but that didn't seem to do much more than ease the itching for a short time. So I started researching what could have bitten me and came to the conclusion that it had to be the Wolf spider as my daughter and her husband just moved into their new home in Texas a few months ago and their home was built on a half acre lot that was a field and they have been having problems with spiders ever since they moved in. Anyway, I was already on antibiotics for a tooth infection and the one I was on was one they give for spider bites (clindamyacin). I wasn't really getting any relief or healing from any of the things I tried so I did more research and found this site. I read about the baking soda poultice and remembered that my mom used to make a poultice from tobacco and baking soda when we were young and would get stung by wasps and bees and I know that worked. So for the past few days I have been making a baking soda poultice and having my husband apply it to the bites which I then leave on for at least an hour to an hour and a half. I could feel the very first poultice drawing pain out and that night I slept with no pain and no itching and in the morning the swelling, etc had gone down a great deal. And this morning after applying a poultice again yesterday, there is no swelling and the bites are healing. I wish I could put the before and after pictures I had my husband take. There is tremendous difference using the baking soda poultice. I am making me a first aide kit with cigarette tobacco, baking soda, and benadryl tablets along with the gauze pads and tape I used to hold the poultice in place. If I get bit again I will use this from the start along with ice packs off and on. To think I might not have had to struggle with the pain and itching for two weeks if I would have tried this from the beginning, I would definitely recommend this to everyone.
Posted by Christina (Boston) on 09/14/2013
Baking soda healed my spider bites beautifully and quickly!
I always read the remedies on this site but never took a moment to post my success. I've had such amazing results this past week with baking soda for my spider bites I wanted to share.
We must have spiders in the apartment- they might be hiding in the exposed brick. It's an older building in Boston.
I had tried "popping" spider bites a few times, not knowing what they were. (The tellltale red, raised bump with the white pinhead can resemble a pimple. ) I tried popping one on my leg above the knee and it swelled up to about 10x the size and looked more like a giant welt. This bite is still healing, from about 3 weeks ago.
Once I came on this website and saw the recommendation for baking soda, I resisted the urge to pop the unsightly pinhead, and applied a baking soda paste (baking soda mixed with water with the consistency of a toothpaste). I did this on a bite I got on my upper arm about a week ago. I applied the paste and covered the area with a bandaid (under my clothing for work). When I got home from work on Day 1, the bite swelling and redness had reduced significantly -and the white pinhead (that looks like puss) had raised on the surface of the skin and enlarged. I had an event that night and was discouraged because I wanted to wear a dress which would expose that area of the arm, and it looked like I had a giant zit on my arm.
I once again resisted the urge to pop (reminded by the slow healing of the bite on my leg) and instead applied more paste and covered with a bandaid. In the next few hours I lifted the bandaid and saw that the white stuff had popped on its own and begun to ooze out a bit, but had been absorbed by the dry paste. All on Day 1 of applying!
Over the next 2-3 days I continued to apply the baking soda paste and each day the appearance improved dramatically. I believe right now I am on Day 4 and the bite is non-existant in appearance and completely healed!! Amazing!
Meanwhile, the bite on my knee from 3 weeks ago is scabbed and healing slowly. Thanks so much earth clinic! I will use baking soda from now on!
Replied by Traci
Posted by Jamie (Largo, Fl) on 05/06/2013
Two days with what I think is a spider bite. I had a dark crater the size of a penny and the swelling the size of a half dollar. Made a thick paste and had it cover the crater and red area. I then used a big adhesive band aid to cover it. After four hours, I looked at it and the selling went down to a quarter. But the crater is no longer a dark color, it's white. Also, it is no longer a crater. Meaning, it filled up no longer be crater. Reapplied baking soda. Waiting to see results later.
Replied by Missharvey73
Posted by Jessica (Oakland, Ca) on 11/20/2011
I used the baking soda paste method on my spider bite and it helped to ease the swelling and it helped cool it down a little. I also iced it in between using the baking soda, which eased the discomfort. An over the counter pain killer also helped ease the pain.
Replied by Shawna
Replied by Deb
Posted by Greg (Leslie, Michigan) on 07/30/2010
I got bit three nights ago on the inside of my elbow by what appeared to be a spider. At first I thought it was a mosquito bite but it was uglier with a white spot on top. I squeezed it and tried hydrogen peroxide and witch hazel but they did nothing. Then I put anti-bacterial ointment on it but by the evening of the first day my arm ached and the welt had turned into a blister. The next day the blister was the size of a jelly bean and the redness and soreness was the size of two half-dollars. My understanding is that spider bites contain a virus. I called Urgent Care and they said to see a doctor the next day and put hot compresses on it until then. I asked if it was okay to put baking soda on it to draw out any toxins. She said Yes but only for 20 minutes. Instead, I made up a paste of plain baking soda and water to the consistency of toothpaste and put it on the bite until it dried. Then I brushed it off. I did this every two hours until I went to sleep: a total of four times. The next morning I woke up and the blister was half the size and the redness was almost gone. It's still a little sore but I will continue for another day. I expect it will be gone tomorrow.
Posted by Jon (Lakeland, Florida) on 10/15/2008
I used a paste of baking soda on a spider bite on my leg and in two days the bite turned from black to red and faded away in little more than a week. It works!
Posted by Mare (Auckland, New Zealand) on 02/21/2008
My daughters were playing outside in the garden and one after the other, they both started screaming, crying and running toward the house. I couldn't understand what had happened but they both had similar red marks on their skin. I assumed they had been bitten by spiders as there was no obvious sting. I quickly applied a thick paste of Baking Soda and water and within minutes both girls were calm and happy. Praise God for Baking Soda!
Posted by MISTI (Killeen, TX) on 09/17/2007
My boyfriend recently got bitten by a spider which caused his hand to swell approx. 3 inches where the bite was at. After almost a week we decided to look into home remedies to heal it. One of his co-workers suggested using a baking soda paste: 3 parts baking soda 1 part water. A little while after he applied it the sore opened up and started oozing. I had read about the salt and garlic cure on this website so as soon as he came home we poured the salt on the wound, left it for about 20 minutes, rinsed and applied a fresh garlic clove overnight; kept this up for about a week and the bite has almost completely healed. All that is left is a small scab where the bite had once been an open wound about the size of a dime. Thanks for the home remedies!
Posted by Aga (Chicago) on 09/22/2014
Got a brown recluse bite on my eyebrow after sleeping in a rarely used top bunk bed at my friends apartment. By the second day my eye was swollen shut and that side of my face was swollen as well. I was nauseated, sweating and had chills. Red bulls eye rash developed and area had strange grayish color. I did not want to go to a hospital because I did not have insurance and was worried that they would try to cut out the area surrounding the bite and it was right above my eye. I hit the internet and decided to try charcoal and baking soda as a last resort before finally going to the ER. It worked beautifully. I took activated charcoal solid tablets and crushed them into powder and added baking soda about 1:1 (slightly more baking soda) I added enough water to make a paste and placed it on a sterile gauze. The first day I would change the dressing about every two hours making sure it remained moist. Changed it couple of times at night. Also took charcoal by mouth to alleviate systemic reaction to the bite. Noticed improvement within a couple hours. Within 2 days the swelling was gone, the rash disappeared no more nausea or chills. Continued for one more day just in case. Did not have any scarring. Since then I always make sure to have activated charcoal around.