In the news recently I read a terrifying story of a little girl who had been bitten by a black widow spider. Her parents weren’t initially concerned because the spot on her leg looked like a bruise.
When the little girl’s school called to tell them their daughter had a fever, they took her to the pediatrician who sent her to the ER, and finally she was attended to by an infectious disease specialist.
If she hadn’t been treated? She would have been in incredible pain, she could have had difficulty breathing, may have had seizures, and yes – even death was a possibility.
Before I go any further let me caution you now, if you ever suspect your child (or anyone) has been bitten by a Black Widow spider, get to the ER immediately. Don’t wait to see if it becomes more severe.
I wanted to find out more about spider bites and about how I can protect my own children from such a scary thing, so I read everything I could get my hands on. I hope it helps you as well, and if it does, I hope you’ll share with other parents.
What Should I Do If I Suspect a Spider Bite?
First of all, don’t go looking online for pictures of spider bites to make a decision about seeing a doctor. Spider bites can look different for different people, and it takes an expert to determine what kind of bite it is, whether it’s poisonous and whether antivenin should be administered. (Antivenin is an antiserum containing antibodies against specific poisons, especially those in the venom of snakes, spiders, and scorpions.)
When you see a spot that may be a spider bite, wash the area with soap & water and apply ice.
It’s important to note that most spider bites are not fatal, nor are they dangerous. If you aren’t certain what kind of spider bit your child, and they aren’t experiencing symptoms, call Poison Control or your doctor.
Your child does not need to have all these symptoms to warrant a visit to the doctor or ER. If you have any doubt at all, take them immediately.
Even when a spider is not necessarily considered dangerous, your child could have an allergic reaction.
“Black widow spider bites often are painful right away. After a bad bite, severe pain and muscle cramps can start in a couple of hours. “ – Poison Control
The larger muscles are especially affected. Your child may experience cramping in the abdomen or thigh, for example. It can often be so severe that parents may mistake it for appendicitis.
Symptoms of a potentially dangerous spider bite:
Pain that happens immediately – at the moment the bite is felt.
Swelling, or burning at the site
Fidgeting or anxiety
Swelling of eyelids
Excess saliva or tearing of the eyes
How Can I Help My Kids Avoid Spiders?
It’s impossible to keep your kids from ever crossing paths with a spider, but there are things you can do to help minimize their chance of being bitten.
1. Try to make sure your child stays away from the dark areas spiders like to hide, like sheds, brush piles, woodpiles, garages, pots & gardening equipment, under rocks, in clutter, or in the mulch used in a flower garden.
2. Teach them to shake out their shoes before putting them on.
3. Encourage them not to have corners in their room piled with toys or books that would be appealing to a spider. Spiders love clutter.
4. Spiders usually get in your house through open windows that don’t have good screens and through doors and cracks and gaps around door and window frames. Seal those up.
5. Keep the areas around your house free from debris like lawn clippings.
6. Spiders can also get in via boxes & bags or toys brought in from the outdoors. Shake off outdoor toys vigorously, and try to dispose of cardboard boxes after you’ve removed their contents.
It’s important to know that for many of these spiders, they don’t make webs indoors. You shouldn’t assume that the absence of spider webs means there are no spiders.
Important numbers you should have at the ready:
POISON CONTROL: 1-800-222-1222. If your child has been bitten, they’ll be of immediate help, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
They also have a great app that’s free to download. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id959075009 (apple)
The important takeaway here is that it’s always better to be safe than sorry. As I said before, most of the time a spider bite amounts to nothing at all. I think it’s critical, however, for we as parents to know what to look for, what to do, and what not to do, so that our kids are safe.