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When to Worry, and When Not to Worry, About a Spider Bite

spider on the skin

Even though there are many pests that carry disease, cause serious physical pain, and bite frequently, people seem the most afraid of spiders. Spiders do have this naturally terrifying look that can be surprising, especially if you run into one unexpectedly, but the reality is that spiders are some of the least dangerous pests on the planet.

When to Worry About a Spider Bite: Almost Never

Spiders simply are not that dangerous. Not all spiders can even break skin. Those that can will almost always only attack if they are within seconds of being squished, and even then the symptoms of the bite are nothing more than a mosquito bite or, at worst, a bee sting. While bee stings can be painful, and no one likes the itch of a mosquito bite, they are not necessarily something to worry about.

Still, there are a few species of spider that can cause serious damage in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and related cities. These include:

  • Brown Recluse Spiders – Though not deadly, the brown recluse spider can cause a very painful bite that may lead to necrosis. Necrosis is when surrounding tissue turns black and dies off. The damage caused by a brown recluse spider may also be permanent. The good news is that these spiders are very, very rare in this area, because they do not survive the climate very well.
  • Black Widow Spiders – Black widow spiders do live in this area of the country, but are still fairly rare. They are found hidden inside of dark and dry areas. Contrary to popular belief, black widow spiders are also very rarely deadly to humans, and those that get bit by a black widow usually survive even without any hospitalization (though hospitalization is still a good idea). Black widow spiders are also scaredy-cats, and will only bite if immediately threatened and protecting young.

So it appears that neither of the spiders native to this area are very deadly, and both are very rarely encountered. So when should you worry about a spider bite?

You should worry if you are allergic, or you have a compromised immune system. Children and the elderly may also be at risk for more severe symptoms. However, the only spider you need to fear is the black widow spider, and a black widow spider is unlikely to have bitten you unless you have been in an area where they are common.

The best thing to do is simply monitor how you feel. Chances are it was nothing, but if you’re concerned or you have other symptoms (or you see that the bite is growing and changing, or becomes very painful), contact a doctor.

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