What Are the Signs of an Allergic Reaction to a Spider Bite?

A spider.
An allergic reaction to a spider bite may require use of an epipen.
Antihistamines can help reduce symptoms caused by an allergic reaction to a spider bite.
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Images By: Cheryl Casey, Greg Friese, Wellford Tiller
  • Last Modified Date: 14 April 2014
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Most reactions to spider bites are relatively minor. For example, a person might experience localized itching because of it, notice redness or swelling in the area, or even feel mild-to-moderate pain as a result. More serious symptoms, which may indicate the need for a doctor's evaluation, could include difficulty breathing and swelling in the face or throat. Hives are also a sign of an allergic reaction to a spider bite.

The most common reactions to spider bites are similar in nature to what a person might experience with the bite of an insect, though they may prove worse in someone with an allergy. For instance, it is common to have itching in the area, and swelling and redness are usually considered typical as well. Likewise, some spider bites may even cause pain or a stinging sensation in the affected area. Though these symptoms might prove upsetting for the person who was bitten, they are usually fairly harmless and resolve with time. Additionally, over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines, itch creams, and pain relievers can help to decrease a person's symptoms.


Sometimes, however, the symptoms of an allergic reaction to a spider bite are severe and alarming. For instance, if a person has a severe reaction, he may notice a tightness in his chest or have difficulty breathing. Sometimes the affected person will cough or wheeze as well. Swelling in the face and mouth are also common signs of a severe reaction, and some people report that it feels as of their throat is closing up or obstructed in some way. The lips and tongue may swell as well.

The face, mouth, and throat are not the only parts of a person's body that are prone to swelling because of an allergic reaction to a spider bite. Some people develop swelling that affects their hands and feet as well. When this occurs, it is most likely to affect the palms of the hands and soles of the feet rather than other parts of the hands and feet. Sometimes the mucous membranes also swell.

Other signs of an allergic reaction include gastrointestinal upset, which can include nausea and loose bowels. Some people may become dizzy as the result of this type of bite, and confusion might become a problem as well. Hives are also among the signs of an allergic reaction and often develop along with other symptoms.


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