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Sunday, October 17, 2021

Post-Collapse Management of Spider Bites

Disclaimer. I am not a licensed health practitioner. This is just another post on an item you might wish to have available if needed so that a physician can treat you and your family as best as possible. No medication, including those available over the counter, should be taken without consulting a physician. Information shared here is for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not medical advice nor a substitute for licensed medical care. A qualified, licensed physician or other medical provider should be consulted before beginning any herbal or conventional treatment.

"Bite Me!"

It's a sign my husband has taped to his back. Of course, only the creepy crawlies can see it, but they all feel obliged to attack. It's kind of nice for me, since whenever he's around they pretty much leave me alone.

Fortunately, most spider bites don't break the skin. If you do happen to get bitten by a spider, kill it and take it with you when you see the doctor for positive identification. Lots of people overreact and may mistakenly believe they have been bitten by a black widow or brown recluse, when in fact it was just some wannabe (a spider that "wants to be" more).

Unfortunately, most people fail to catch the spider.

Oftentimes, what a patient thinks is a spider bite is not actually a bite at all. The fact is that most spiders have fangs too small or fragile to break through human skin. That small, raised red mark with what looks like a central puncture to it is often a MRSA infection. If it gets bigger, antibiotics may be required. (Penicillin-family antibiotics are useless in this situation. The drugs of choice here would be trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole or doxycycline.)

Common Spider Bites
Most spider bites are not cause for concern and rate right up there with mosquito bites. How people react to them varies greatly, whether it's some stupid little spider or a black widow.

The following are common natural treatments for spider bites. They may also be used for black widow and brown recluse bites, when there is no other option.

After cleaning the bite site with soap and water, do any of the following to alleviate pain and swelling:

elevate the affected body part;
apply ice;
apply a baking soda paste in a 3:1 ratio of baking soda to water, applied several times per day;
lavender essential oil, a few drops applied with or without dilution in a carrier oil, directly on the bite site;
apply an aspirin paste (grind up aspirin and make a paste as for baking soda);
wintergreen essential oil, a few drops diluted in carrier oil and applied to the bite site;
raw peeled and shredded potato poultice, with potato shreds placed in between layers of gauze and replaced when potatoes dry out;
witch hazel;
aloe vera gel;
activated charcoal poultice, applied for 1-2 hours twice per day.

Black Widow Bites
When we have a functioning medical system, like now, black widow bites are cause for a quick trip to the ER, during which time any of the above remedies may be applied to relieve the pain. They are not a substitute for competent medical care.

Black widows are found mainly in the southwestern United States. They're more active at night and like to hang out in garages, sheds, barns, any place nice and dark. Most black widows are a glossy black color. Southern black widows have the infamous red hourglass pattern on the abdomen; this hourglass may be absent or harder to see in other subspecies. When it comes to black widows around here, that hourglass marking is there, if you look really closely. Most of us don't want to invade their personal space like that to see.

Black widow venom, a neurotoxic protein, is potent stuff and hits the central nervous system hard, but the reaction varies considerably from person to person. The bite site itself is a red and raised bump, and with the naked eye you may be able to identify the two punctures. Intense pain is the first symptom, which occurs pretty quickly after being bitten. According to one patient, the pain initially was that of an ant bite, then it progressed pretty quickly to a bee sting, and within 20-30 minutes it was at the level of "SHOOT ME NOW!" The pain may spread from the bite site to the back and abdomen.

As the reaction of patients varies widely, they may experience any of the following symptoms:

chest pain
breathing difficulties
muscle cramps at bite site or all over the body
abdominal pain
profuse sweating and salivation
nausea and vomiting
disorientation or mental confusion
increase in heart rate
increase in blood pressure

Black widow bites are much more serious in children, seniors, and those with compromised immune systems, but fortunately are rarely fatal. Physical health and the age of patient have the greatest effect on the course of illness and the outcome.

Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are often recommended for pain. Narcotics used to be prescribed, but they're a lot harder to come by nowadays. Benadryl may help alleviate inflammation and itching. Hot and cold compresses may also be used. An activated charcoal poultice for removing the toxin from the body is highly recommended, as is taking capsules internally. A warm bath may help alleviate muscle cramps.

Brown Recluse Bites
The brown recluse spider, also called the violin spider because of violin-shaped pattern on its back, is most commonly found in the warm, dry climates of the southern Midwest and South. It inhabits dark, quiet areas like basements and closets and areas behind furniture. The initial bite is usually painless, but within eight hours any or all of the following symptoms may manifest:

burning, itching, pain and/or redness at the bite site
a red or purple ring or target pattern around the site
a fluid filled blister at the bite that may become an ulcer

Additional possible symptoms include:

nausea and vomiting

More rarely, symptoms may include:

blood in urine
kidney failure

Again, like black widow bites, brown recluse bites are rarely fatal, but they are much more serious in children, seniors, and those with compromised immune systems. All of the above methods for dealing with common spider bites may be employed with brown recluse bites, However, just as with black widow bites, none of these is a substitute for competent medical care when it is available.

When there is no higher medical care anywhere, there are two alternative treatment options that have shown good results.

Apply a poultice of Echinacea angustifolia or Echinacea purpurea (the former is much stronger) to the bite. Change the poultice 2-3 times each day. An echinacea tincture may also be taken internally, 4-8 ml of a 1:4 tincture, 2-3 times each day.
Apply a poultice of activated charcoal moistened with lavender essential oil. Change this poultice every two to three hours. Activated charcoal may also be taken internally. Be aware that it will turn the stool black.

Links to related posts:
Activated charcoal
The Herbal Medic and the HomeGrown Herbalist
Bed Bugs
For further information:
Dr Cynthia Koelker, Armageddon Medicine, p 302.
Dr Joseph Alton, The Survival Medicine Handbook, pp 333-35.
Sam Coffman, The Herbal Medic, Vol 1, pp 224-27.
(All web articles accessed 10 May 2019).

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