Spider bites and mosquito bites can be worrying - especially if you’ve noticed one on your child and you’re not sure how to identify them and treat them. Waking up with a bite one day isn't all that unusual, but you should keep an eye on a bite and avoid disturbing it to ensure it heals - and to make sure that nothing more sinister is at play. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about spider and mosquito bites so you can have peace of mind.
Everything You Need To Know About Spider Bites
Despite what many people think, spider bites are actually quite rare. 90% of the bumps people attribute to a spider bite are actually caused by something else - if you wake up one day with a bite, don’t assume it’s from a spider. They do bite occasionally, but when they do, you’re unlikely to have much of a problem. The majority of spiders don’t have fangs long enough to break the skin and their venom isn't strong enough to endanger humans.
There are only two spiders in the USA that could possibly endanger humans: the Black Widow and the Brown Recluse. Still, these spiders don’t tend to bite and hardly ever kill or injure humans - they certainly don't need to be at the top of your list of things to be afraid of. Both of these spiders like to keep to themselves, and will only bite if they feel cornered. That being said, you may invade their space without knowing it - and that’s when a bite can happen!
What Does A Spider Bite Look Like?
Knowing what to look for in a spider bite is one of the keys to identifying it correctly. A bite from a brown recluse may not look like anything at all at first, but most bites will have a red, raised bump that may itch.
Bear in mind that if multiple people you are with have sustained bites, it’s unlikely to be from a spider.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Spider Bite?
Symptoms can begin anywhere from one to three hours and can intensify over several hours to a whole day. Symptoms can include:
- Sharp pain or swelling at the site of the bite
- Pain that spreads to the back, belly, or chest
- Severe stomach cramps
- Feel achy
- Joint pain
- Trouble breathing
- An ulcer at the side of the bite with a purple center
The above symptoms are severe and will often only be experienced when bitten by a dangerous spider. In rare cases, you may experience an allergic reaction to a spider bite, which could cause facial swelling, itching over a larger area, and trouble breathing.
How Do You Treat A Spider Bite?
Most people who have been bitten by a spider do not need to visit a doctor, even if they have been bitten by a Black Widow or Brown Recluse. If you don’t have severe symptoms, then it’s possible you can treat the bite at home. Here are the steps to take:
- Clean the wound gently using soap and water, nothing else.
- Use antibiotic cream on the affected area.
- Elevate the area if you can, as this will help to reduce swelling.
- Put an ice pack on the bite.
- Use over the counter medicine if needed.
- Keep an eye out for severe symptoms.
You will want to visit a doctor right away if you do notice severe symptoms - an antivenom shot may need to be administered. If the site gets infected, visit the doctor to get antibiotics and a tetanus booster. Tetanus spores can sometimes collect inside of spider bites. It’s a good idea to make a note on your calendar of the date you noticed the bite so you can keep an eye on whether it becomes infected.
Catching the spider or taking a photo of it for identification can help speed up the treatment process.
The following video can give you more helpful information on how to identify and treat bites:
Everything You Need To Know About Mosquito Bites
Mosquitoes pierce the skin and feed on your blood, causing a red, itchy bump. As a mosquito fills itself with your blood, it injects saliva into your skin. The proteins in the saliva trigger a mild immune system reaction that results in the noticeable bump. A mosquito selects who to bite based on chemicals in sweat and scent, and will bite as many times as they can until they are full.
In most cases, a mosquito bite will heal on its own in a few days and is nothing to worry about. However, occasionally, a bite can cause sites of swelling, soreness, and redness - this is a reaction common in children called ‘skeeter syndrome’.
A bite from a mosquito that is carrying a parasite or a virus can cause severe illness. Yellow fever and malaria are just two of the illnesses that can be passed on by infected mosquitoes.
What Does A Mosquito Bite Look Like?
Mosquito bites may start out as a white bump, usually a few minutes after the bite has taken place. A day or so after the bite, it may turn red/brown and become hard and itchy. It may also appear as a dark spot that looks like a bruise, or small blisters instead of hard lumps.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Mosquito Bite?
Children are more prone to severe symptoms than adults, unfortunately. Those with immune system disorders and adults who have never been bitten should also be careful. Symptoms in these people may include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- A large area of swelling and redness
In most cases, though, the symptoms of a mosquito bite will be nothing more than a red, hard, itchy bump. If a bite seems to cause more severe symptoms, such as signs of infection, vomiting, shortness of breath, or body aches and fevers, you should call 911.
How Do You Treat A Mosquito Bite?
Treating a standard mosquito bite is fairly simple - though one of the most important things to do is avoid scratching it. Scratching a bite could transform a harmless bite into something large, painful, and infected. You should also:
- Clean the bite gently with soap and water.
- Apply an ice pack.
- Use an over the counter, topical anti-itch cream or calamine lotion.
- Take an over the counter antihistamine.
Making sure the bite remains soothed enough to keep itching at bay is especially important for young children. If your child is still trying to itch the bite after applying anti-itch lotion and other remedies, you could consider applying a dressing to the bite to deter them.
The video below will give you an idea of how you can go about easing the itch of a bite - this is especially important for children, who may not have the self discipline to avoid itching a bite!
How Can You Keep Your Home Free From Spiders?
Of course, prevention in the first instance is far easier and more effective than curing a spider bite. To keep your home free from spiders you can try the following:
- Keep everything hygienic and clean - don’t leave food out, put bins away from your home, change your indoor bins regularly, etc.
- Use a special spider spray to deter them.
- Try essential oils.
- Don’t leave windows open in cold weather.
If all else fails, professional pest removal may be your only option.
How Can You Keep Your Home Free From Mosquitoes?
Mosquitoes need standing water to breed, so one of the best things you can do is remove any trace of this from your home and garden. Try the following:
- Unclog your roof gutters.
- Empty children's paddling pools at least once a week, but more often if you can.
- Change water in your bird baths at least once weekly.
- Get rid of old tires in your garden.
- Empty outdoor flower pots regularly or store them upside down so that they can't collect water.
- Drain your fire pit if water tends to collect there.
- Pay attention to any other area in your garden where water tends to pool and ensure you don’t let the water sit for long.
In general, spider mosquito bites are nothing to worry about - and spending your time panicking about them will only steal your happiness. However, remaining vigilant when your child has a bite will help you to assess whether they need treatment or not. Any severe symptoms after a bite should be treated as quickly as possible. Symptoms such as redness and itching are normal.