There’s nothing enjoyable about sharing our country with dreaded, eight-legged creepy-crawly spiders, but that’s the reality of living in Australia.
That’s why it’s worth knowing what to do when someone is bitten by a spider.
Now, as Australia is home to more than one dangerous spiders, we’re going to provide some treatment options for both general spider bites, as well as bites from both a red-back spider and a funnel-web spider.
Symptoms of A Spider Bite
Spider bites do happen in Australia, and if you’re providing first aid to someone who has suffered a spider bite you’ll need to make a decision about how serious their condition is. This will determine whether they’ll need to be attended by an ambulance, or just seen by a doctor in follow-up. The general symptoms of a spider bite include:
- Sharp pain where the bite is
- Heavy sweating
- Nausea and vomiting along with abdominal pain
- A burning sensation
- Swelling at the sight
- Blistering of skin and surrounds
General Treatment For All Spider Bites
In ALL spider bite cases, regardless of what kind of spider might have bitten your patient, it’s important to follow the DRSABCD protocol. This means you need to check that both you and your patient (as well as others) are not in Danger. You need to check your patient’s Response, and if they are unresponsive you need to put them in the recovery position and Send for help by calling Triple Zero (000). Make sure your patient has a clear Airway and is Breathing normally. If not, commence CPR, and if necessarily Defibrillation.
After following the DRSABCD protocol, lie the patient down and make sure they are calm. It’s important for them to remain still, and avoid going into shock.
Treatment For Poisonous Spider Bites
For general spider bites, that is bites not caused by a red-back spider or funnel-web/mouse spider, treatment is straightforward. You need to wash the bitten area with both soap and water before applying an icepack, or other cold compress, to the area in order to relieve the pain. It’s important to seek medical attention if at any point the patient develops any severe symptoms.
Here are some first aid procedures on how to treat a spider bite.
Red-Back Spider Bite
Red-back spiders can leave a painful bite, and despite the fact that there have been no direct deaths from the spider in many years, they remain incredibly dangerous. As well as the normal spider bite symptoms, those patients bitten by a red-back spider may also experience:
- Intense pain in the bite area that increases and spreads out
- Small hairs standing on end
- Patchy sweating
- Muscle spasms and weakness
Treatment for A Red-Back Spider Bite
Treating a red-back spider bite is a little different from treating a normal spider bite. You still need to follow the DRSABCD protocol, call for help and calm the patient. Then, instead of washing the bite, simply apply the icepack directly to the bite to help relieve the pain. If serious symptoms develop, seek medical help immediately.
Funnel-Web/Mouse Spider Bite
Funnel-Web spiders are incredibly dangerous, and a bite from one of them is a nightmare. However, it’s a nightmare that you can help to get through with some simple first aid knowledge. The first thing that you should know is what symptoms to look out for. As well as the normal spider bite symptoms, patients bitten by a funnel-web spider often experience:
- Excessive saliva extretion
- Difficulty breathing
- Muscular twitching
- Small hairs standing on end
- Numbness around the mouth
- Unstoppable tears
- Increase in blood pressure
- Fast pulse
- Confusion that may lead to unconsciousness
Treatment for A Funnel-Web/Mouse Spider Bite
Due to the severity of a funnel-web spider bite, it’s an absolute must to call an ambulance when you’re following the DRSABCD protocol. Once the patient is lying down and calmed, it’s important to do the following while you wait for the ambulance to arrive.
First, if the bite is on a limb (the most common area), you need to wrap the area in a broad crepe bandage. On top of that bandage, you then need to wrap a heavy crepe bandage, or an elasticised roller bandage. Wrap the area starting just above the fingers or toes of the bitten limb, going as far as you can reach. It’s important that the wrap be tight, but it shouldn’t shop blood supply to the bottom of the limb. Once the leg is wrapped, you’ll need to make sure the patient keeps absolutely still by installing a splint onto the limb. After you’ve done this, stay with the patient and keep them calm until the ambulance arrives.
What other methods you know that are proven effective to treat spider bites?
For More Information
All First Aid information in this article was sourced from the St. John Ambulance Australia website. You can read more about First Aid treatments and courses here. Remember that in an emergency always dial Triple Zero (000) for assistance.
SAHM takes no responsibility for any illness, injury or death caused by misuse of this information. All information provided is correct at time of publication.