Spiders are common.
In fact, it some times seems like they are everywhere.
Fortunately, as much as parents and kids worry about them, spider bites are much less common. Most of the 50,000 species of spiders spend their time trapping and eating insects -- not little children.
Why do parents worry about spider bites so much then?
One of the most likely reasons is that many people have heard stories of horrible, even deadly, spider bites. And so they associate these bad spider bites with every spider they see in their house or garden, even though most of these bad spider bites only come from black widow spiders and brown recluse spiders -- not the more harmless garden and house spiders that your kids are most likely to encounter.
It is also likely that spider bites are simply overdiagnosed. Many insect bites have the characteristic symptoms of a spider bite, with redness, pain, and swelling at the site of a bite.
This particular "bite" could very well have been a spider bite, but it could also have been a regular insect bite as it was unwitnessed. Either way, it went away in a few days with basic first aid, including:
- cleaning the bite with soap and water
- applying ice to the bite for about 20 minutes
- using a pain reliever, such as Tylenol or Motrin
- applying an antibiotic ointment to keep the area from getting infected, which is one of the biggest complications of a non-poisonous spider bite
- applying a steroid cream to the area to help with the symptoms of itchiness and redness
- repeating these steps several times a day for a few days, seeing your pediatrician if the bite isn't improving in that time
Poisonous Spider Bites
Not all of the spiders around your home will be harmless, such as this non-poisonous garden spider. Many of us do have poisonous spiders in and around our homes, including the:
- black widow spider
- brown recluse spider
If you think that your child has been bitten by a black widow spider or a brown recluse spider, you should seek medical attention or can call poison control (1-800-222-1222) for further help.
As much as most parents and kids don't like to be around spiders, you can usually be sure that spiders don't like to be around them either. Most spiders live in dark places, such as the garage, attic, woodpile, or closet, building their webs in places that are likely to attract insects. That is why you often see spiders out on their webs at night near porch lights, etc.
To help your kids avoid spider bites, you can teach them to:
- shake out shoes and clothing that have been on the floor, especially if they have been on the floor of the closet for a long period of time
- not leave clothing, boxes, and toys under their bed
- be careful when opening boxes that have been stored in their closet or in the attic
And since spiders like to feed on insects, you can help to control spiders inside your house by controlling their food supply. If spiders don't have a lot of insects to eat in your attic or closets, then they should stay outside where they can do their work of controlling the insects around your house.