Black Widow Spider Bite

ExitCare ImageThe adult female black widow spider has a black body about ½ inch (1.2 centimeters) long. This spider has an orange-red hourglass shape on her belly. Black widow spider bites can be serious and life-threatening.


  • Do not scratch the bite. Keep the bite clean and covered with a bandage.

  • Wash the bite 3 times a day with warm, soapy water, or as told by your doctor.

  • Put ice on the bite.

  • Put ice in a plastic bag.

  • Place a towel between your skin and the bag.

  • Leave the ice on for 20 minutes, 4 times a day. Do this for the first 2 days, or as told by your doctor.

  • Keep the bite raised (elevated) above the level of your heart.

  • Only take medicines as told by your doctor.

  • Watch the bite for pain, puffiness (swelling), redness, or yellowish-white fluid (pus).

You may need a tetanus shot if:

  • You cannot remember when you had your last tetanus shot.

  • You have never had a tetanus shot.

  • The injury broke your skin.

If you need a tetanus shot and you choose not to have one, you may get tetanus. Sickness from tetanus can be serious.


  • You have muscle cramps or belly (abdominal) pain or cramps.

  • You are breathing fast or have a fast heartbeat (pulse).

  • You feel restless or confused.

  • You have chest pain.

  • You feel lightheaded or generally sick (malaise).

  • You have pain, soreness, redness, puffiness, or fluid coming from the bite.

  • You have a fever.


  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.