Skip to content
Font Size

Black Widow Spider Bite

When to Seek Medical Care

In general, treatment for serious reactions to a black widow spider's bite will be beyond the scope of most medical offices and urgent care centers. Pain relief may require the use of narcotics and antivenin (antitoxin to counteract the effects of the spider venom).

The decision to seek emergency care is usually easy and should be made early. If the person who was bitten by a black widow spider has more than minor pain or has whole-body symptoms, seek care at a hospital's Emergency Department. If symptoms are severe, call 911 for emergency medical transport so that evaluation and treatment can start en route to the hospital.

Black Widow Spider Bite Treatment

Self-Care at Home

The options for home care are somewhat limited. Both cold and warm compresses have been recommended, as have hot baths. Certainly, a hot bath would seem to be of value because the pain is due primarily to muscle spasm. Obviously, over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen may be of value in mild cases. Folk remedies have not proven to work.

Medical Treatment

In general, extensive medical evaluation is not necessary. The exceptions are when the history of a black widow bite is not clear, if the bite was not witnessed, and when associated symptoms require the exclusion of more serious disorders, such as heart attack.


In general, the person bitten by a black widow spider, who has pain severe enough to seek treatment at an Emergency Department, will require narcotic pain relief. Muscle relaxants given by injection may also be of value. Although calcium gluconate given through an IV has long been advocated, it does not seem to produce much relief of symptoms.

Use of antivenin

The antivenin available for treatment of black widow spider bites is derived from horse serum. The venom produced by various species of spiders is similar, so the antivenin prepared against one venom is effective against the others. Antivenin is produced by gradually increasing injections of the specific venom in a horse. The horse naturally produces the antivenin used in humans.

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

disciplining a boy
Types, symptoms, causes.
Remember your finger
Are You Getting More Forgetful?
fruit drinks
Eat these to think better.
No gym workout
Moves to help control blood sugar.
acupuncture needle on shoulder
10 tips to look and feel good.
Close up of eye
12 reasons you're distracted.
birth control pills
Which kind is right for you?
embarrassed woman
Do you feel guilty after eating?
Epinephrine Injection using Auto-Injector Syringe
Life-threatening triggers.
woman biting a big ice cube
Habits that wreck your teeth.
pacemaker next to xray
Treatment options.
caregiver with parent
10 tips for daily life.

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.