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Spider Bites: What You Should Know

When you go hiking or camping, you're bound to come across creepy crawlers. Most bugs, like mosquitoes, are annoying yes, but fairly harmless. If you're lucky enough to not have to worry about bee allergies, you still need to be on the look out for spiders.

Only a few spiders are dangerous to humans, but 2 live in the U.S., and are most commonly found in the southern states. The black widow spider and the brown recluse spider both prefer warm climates and dark, dry places where flies are plentiful. They often live in littered, undisturbed areas, such as closets, woodpiles and under sinks.

What should you do if you've been bitten by one of these? To find out

The female black widow gives a more serious bite, but is rarely lethal. You can identify a black widow by the striking red hourglass marking on the underside of its belly. The bite feels like a pinprick, and at first you may only notice slight swelling and redness. Within a few hours, intense pain and stiffness begin. You may also get chills, fever, nausea, and severe abdominal pain.

The brown recluse spider has a violin-shaped marking on the top of its body. The bite feels like a sting, but within 8 hours, you'll have redness and intense pain. A fluid-filled blister forms and then falls off, leaving a deep, enlarging ulcer. On rare occasion, death results, but mostly in children.

If you've been bitten by any spider, clean the area immediately with soap and water, and then apply a cool compress. Aspirin or Tylenol may be taken to alleviate pain.

If you have been bitten by a black widow or brown recluse, and the bite is on an arm or leg, tie a snug bandage above the bite to prevent the venom from spreading. Apply a cold compress to the area and seek medical attention. Black widow spider bites may require anti-venom medication, and brown recluse bites may be treated with corticosteroids.

Fit's Tips: Always camp, backpack or hike with a friend for safety. Bring along a first aid kit including ice packs, bandages and Tylenol. Carrying along your cell phone is also a great idea.

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