Preparing for your appointment

If you've been bitten by a spider that you suspect is a black widow or brown recluse, call your primary care doctor or go to an urgent care center. If your doctor has online services, an option may be to email a photo of the spider to your doctor.

What you can do

To help your doctor understand your symptoms and how they might relate to a spider bite, you can:

  • Bring the spider or a photo of the spider with you
  • Write down any symptoms you're experiencing
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor

Some basic questions you might want to ask include:

  • If this is a dangerous spider bite, what's the next best step?
  • If this isn't a spider bite, what are possible causes for my symptoms or condition?
  • Do I need any tests?
  • How long will my symptoms last?
  • What is the best course of action?

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:

  • When did you begin experiencing symptoms?
  • What were you doing in the hours before your symptoms started?
  • Have your symptoms gotten worse?
  • Does anything relieve your symptoms or make them worse?
May 14, 2016
References
  1. Vetter RS, et al. Approach to the patient with a suspected spider bite: An overview. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 8, 2016.
  2. Habif TP. Infestations and bites. In: Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 6th ed. Edinburgh, U.K.; New York, N.Y.: Mosby Elsevier; 2016. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 8, 2016.
  3. Spider bites. Merck Manual Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/SearchResults?query=spider+bites. Accessed March 8, 2016.
  4. Venomous spiders. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/spiders. Accessed March 8, 2016.
  5. Vetter RS, et al. Management of widow spider bites. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 8, 2016.
  6. Vetter RS, et al. Bites of recluse spiders. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 8, 2016.
  7. Brown recluse spider. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. http://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_Hurricane_Facts/brown_recluse_spider.pdf. Accessed March 8, 2016.
  8. Diaz JH, et al. Common spider bites. American Family Physician. 2007;75:869.
  9. Claypool DW (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 24, 2014.
  10. Juckett G. Arthropod bites. American Family Physician. 2013;88:841.
  11. Black widow spider. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. http:www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_Hurricane_Facts/black_widow_spider.pdf. Accessed March 23, 2016.