Thursday, March 8, 2012

How to avoid and treat spider bites on hikes

Brown recluse spider. Photo courtesy
of Indian DNR.
As with mosquitoes, the bite from the spider is mostly just a nuisance. Still, allergic reactions can occur, and a few spiders are downright deadly. The most dangerous spiders are various widows, the brown recluse and tarantulas.

To avoid spider bites, don’t stick hands into dark holes or rocky crevices and don’t turn over rocks. Spiders live in such areas and may bite if surprised and think they’re under attack.

Treat a spider bite by washing the bite area with soap and water. A cold compress can help alleviate the swelling and redness. Diphenhydramine tablets can be taken to reduce the itch while acetaminophen will help relieve severe pain. If a severe reaction occurs or you know the bite was from a poisonous spider, seek immediate medical treatment.

A few don’ts … Aspirin won’t reduce the inflammation of a spider bite and shouldn’t be taken by children. Don’t bother with antibiotics, as they’re not designed for treating spider bites. Finally, don’t cut open the bite mark as it may lead to infection.

Related articles:
g How to avoid and treat mosquito bites
g How to avoid ticks and handle their bites
g Handling bees, hornets, wasps and yellow jackets
g Avoiding and treating chigger bites

Read more about day hiking with children in my guidebook Hikes with Tykes.