Gardens of California ® LLC 
Bridget Guzzi, Owner




What is a black widow spider?

A black widow spider is a small, shiny, black, button-shaped spider with a red hourglass mark on its abdomen, and prefers warm climates. Black widow spider bites release a toxin that can cause damage to the nervous system, thus emergency medical treatment is necessary.

What are the symptoms of a black widow spider bite?

The following are the most common symptoms of a black widow spider bite. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • immediate pain, burning, swelling, and redness at the site (double fang marks may be seen)

  • cramping pain and muscle rigidity in the stomach, chest, shoulders, and back

  • headache

  • dizziness

  • rash and itching

  • restlessness and anxiety

  • sweating

  • eyelid swelling

  • nausea or vomiting

  • salivation, tearing of the eyes

  • weakness, tremors, or paralysis, especially in the legs

These symptoms of a black widow spider bite may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.

Treatment for a black widow spider bite:

Specific treatment for a black widow spider bite will be determined by your physician. Treatment may include:

  • Wash the area well with soap and water.

  • Apply a cold or ice pack wrapped in a cloth, or a cold, wet washcloth to the site.

  • To protect against infection, particularly in children, apply an antibiotic lotion or cream.

  • Give acetaminophen for pain.

  • Seek immediate emergency care for further treatment. Depending on the severity of the bite, treatment may include muscle relaxants, pain relievers and other medications, and supportive care. Antivenin may be needed, although it is usually not required. Hospitalization may be needed.

  • Prompt treatment is essential to avoid more serious complications, especially in children.


  • TEXT from the San Ramon Regional Medical Center

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