Spider bites
Signs, symptoms and what to do in the event of a spider bite.
Sonder Health avatar
Written by Sonder Health
Updated over a week ago

In a medical emergency call an ambulance dial 000 in Australia or 111 in New Zealand.

The DRSABCD Action Plan is the first step when providing first aid. Use this to assess the immediate situation. DRSABCD Danger > Response > Send for help > Airway > Breathing > CPR > Defibrillation

Signs and symptoms
General symptoms:
• Sharp pain at bite site
• Profuse sweating
• Nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

Additional symptoms of a Funnel-Web or Mouse spider bite
• Copious secretion of saliva
• Muscular twitching and breathing difficulty
• Small hairs stand on end
• Numbness around mouth
• Copious tears
• Disorientation
• Fast pulse
• Markedly increased blood pressure
• Confusion leading to unconsciousness.

Additional symptoms of a Redback spider bite
• Intense local pain which increases and spreads
• Small hairs stand on end
• Patchy sweating
• Headache
• Muscle weakness or spasms.

Possible signs and symptoms of other spider bites
• Burning sensation
• Swelling
• Blistering.

What to do
First aid for Funnel-web / Mouse spider: pressure bandage and immobilise
1. Follow DRSABCD.
2. Call an ambulance — dial 000 in Australia or 111 in New Zealand.
3. Lie the patient down and ask them to keep still. Reassure the patient.
4. If on a limb, apply an elasticised roller bandage (10–15 cm wide) over the bite site as soon as possible.
5. Apply a further elasticised roller bandage (10–15 cm wide), starting just above the fingers or toes and moving upwards on the bitten limb as far as can be reached.
• Use clothing or other material if an elasticised roller bandage is not available.
• Apply the bandage as firmly as possible to the limb. You should be unable to easily slide a finger between the bandage and the skin.
6. Immobilise the bandaged limb using splints.
7. Keep the patient lying down and completely still (immobilised).
8. Write down the time of the bite and when the bandage was applied. If possible, mark the location of the bite site (if known) on the skin with a pen, or photograph the site. Do not wash venom off the skin or clothes because it may assist identification.
9. Stay with the patient until medical aid arrives.

First aid for Red-back and other spider bites
1. Wash the injured site with soap and water.
2. Apply a cold pack to the bitten or stung area for 15 minutes and reapply if pain continues.
3. Seek medical attention if the patient develops severe symptoms.

Suitable for red-back spider or other spider bite; bee.

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All content in Sonder's Help Centre is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Information originally published by St John Ambulance Australia.

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