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Treat A Bad Spider Bite Naturally

Submitted by on November 12, 2012 – 3:00 pm 31 Comments
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how to treat a bad spider bite naturally

A couple of weeks ago, my five year old, Ty, woke up from his nap with a sore on his elbow that we hadn’t noticed earlier in the day. My husband and I asked him what had happened to him, but he was just as puzzled as we were.

At first glance I thought he’d just skinned his elbow playing, but upon a closer examination I realized it was definitely not a scrape. This was most certainly some kind of a bite. I put my money on a spider bite. There were two distinct puncture holes, and it was very red, and ulcer-ish.

Yep. A BAD spider bite.

I drew a circle around the bite to note any increase in size, then immediately jumped online to research poisonous spiders and treatments. Of course, that led me to all kinds of gruesome pictures of nectrotic bites which totally freaked me out.

We have two dangerous spiders common to our area: Black Widows and Brown Recluse. Black Widows cause pain when they bite, but a Brown Recluse bite is rarely ever felt. Both, however, cause rapid tissue damage and can become very serious if not treated immediately.

I had no idea what kind of a spider bit him, but it likely wasn’t a Black Widow. And Brown Recluse bites aren’t usually deadly, so that was at least a little comforting to know if in fact it had been a recluse.

Of course, this happened over the weekend when the doctor’s office was closed. Even if they had been open though, I wouldn’t have gone straight to the doc. Their response would have been antihistamines and antibiotics, and that definitely wasn’t what I wanted our first course of action to be.

I was going to be on high alert and pay close attention to the bite and Ty’s reaction until it began to noticeably improve or worsen. Since Titus wasn’t feeling badly, he had no fever or pain or anything, I opted to begin treating the bite at home first. If his condition worsened, we would take him to the hospital.

First, I used my Extractor Snake/Insect Bite Kit (HIGHLY recommend!) to suck any possible venom out. I did this a couple of times, and Ty was a champ through it all.

Next, I disinfected the wound with my favorite herbal spray- Healing Tree All Natural First Aid Spray. It has tea tree oil, myrrh, comfrey and goldenseal, and is non-stinging.

I then made a paste from activated charcoal, and plastered it onto the wound. Activated charcoal will draw toxins out, but is only beneficial for the first couple of treatments. I covered the black goop with a piece of plastic wrap, went around that with an ace bandage to hold it on, and left the dressing on overnight.

The next day it was hard to tell if the sore was any better ’cause it was stained black from the charcoal. I had Ty soak his elbow in warm Epsom salt water for about 15 minutes. We used a cottonball to wipe the black away as much as possible.

how to heal bad spider bite

Plantain growing in my backyard.

I then made a poultice of plantain by washing a freshly picked leaf, chewing it up (yes, that’s right), then putting it onto the bite. I covered the plantain with sterile gauze (later using Wooly Lamb’s Ear as a dressing cover), then wrapped the poultice with an ace bandage. {You can read more about how I use Plantain HERE.}

We made a trip to Whole Foods that day to pick up some Bentonite Clay. This was to be used like the charcoal paste, to draw out the toxins and promote healing. I also picked up a jar of organic raw honey for healing as well. I was hoping to get Manuka Honey, but they didn’t have any with a strength of 16+ or more, unfortunately.

While we were there I also bought a bottle of Sambucus (Elderberry Syrup) to help support his immune system. Echinacea and Vitamin C are also recommended.

In the book Be Your Own “Doctor” by Rachel Weaver M.H., she recommends the following “antihistamine duo”: Pantothenic Acid (a natural antihistamine) and Maximizer (an enzyme supplement). I didn’t get any, but I thought the information was worth noting.

So, for the next three days I alternated between using the clay, the plantain poultices, the honey, and soaking in salt water 1-2 times per day, and by day five it was almost completely healed.

I think the adhesive on the band-aid we used broke his skin out, so I switched back to the gauze/lamb’s ear leaves and self-sticking wrap.

It looked so much better by this time. Once it had healed over, I applied honey often so as to reduce the scarring. I also rubbed vitamin E on it.

It’s nothing but a slight scar now, about two weeks later.  I’d prayed and prayed that he wouldn’t end up like those horrific skin graph operation photos! Geez! I’m so grateful it healed up so nicely and he experience no other side-effects.

Of course I have to say that if you have a spider bite and you are having symptoms of an infection or bad allergic reaction, seek medical help right away.

Have you ever had a bad spider bite? How did you go about treating it?



  • Connie says:

    I have been researching this site and one other for help with 17 brown recluse spider bites I got about 8 weeks ago and didn’t feel a one of them until they started itching badly about an hour later. I am a nurse and these spiders were in the sleeve of a sweat shirt I had not worn for a yr. I learned that in the future I will wash all clothes that have hung or stored over the seasons. I have managed to get 5 healed but other’s are not doing well so I am on this site.
    My sister used to work for Dr. Leslie Anderson in Lonoke,Ar in the ’80’s. One morning they arrived at the clinic and tv satelite’s were every where. The Little Rock stations and national were there and the nurses were trying to figure things our. They learned shortly after Dr. Anderson had been named America’s Physician of the year. He had written in JAMA that he had discovered if a brown recluse spider bite is treated within the “golden hour” of the bite with Lidocaine injection around the bite it kills the venom in it’s tracks. This was tested and proven by NIH to be true. This is the answer for latent venom reactions and the bite will not break down. It is difficult to catch them that fast. I wasn’t able to.
    I have been in the hospital for a week with blood poisoning. I have 5 bite’s that have broken down again and the skin keeps wasting away. I had blister’s really bad all on my upper arm that is still causing problems. Now I am ordering the Medi Pack. Brown recluse bite’s develop silver core’s in each eye and if they are not gotten out it will never heal. I started searching for the recipe for my grandmother’s black salve we always had at home. I know if I can get some it will work.
    So, hear I am and I have gained a wealth of knowledge.

    I am glad your son healed and I hope he has no side effects.

    Just take this thought with you. Venom from these spider’s can and will build in the system. They can act with the same principle as vaccines such as the flu vaccines which must be boosted each yr. Folk that have never recieved a flu shot and are up in age need 2 to jump start for lost yrs. So, if you can get to a Dr. and you can get them to listen about the Lidocaine, go for it. You may have to tell them Dr, Anderson’s name and he still practices in Lonoke, Ar. Get them to call him. Steriods are not the answer !! If you start and antibiotic don’t stop it!! This is critical. We have a massive crisis that has developed world wide because folk have stopped their antibiotic’s in the past and now we are paying. The bugs have gotten resistant to the antibiotic’s. The antibiotic doesn’t treat you. It treats the bug! Now we have super staph called MRSA, Resistant EColi, etc. I have seen children 12 and under since the early 90’s die because their are no antibiotics strong enough. I you love your children then finish a script if you start.

  • smithy says:

    The active compounds in Aloe Vera are anthraquinones, lectins, acetylated mannans, ploy mannans, and salicylic acid. The compounds anthraquinones have antibacterial properties whereas the phenolic compounds barbaloin, emodin, anthrone-C-glycosides, chromones, and anthracene exhibit antimicrobial agents.

  • Heather says:

    Thanks for the tips. I used lavender essential oil on a bite my three-year-old had that was getting hot, red, swollen, and speading. I applied a drop a couple times a day for 2-3 days, and it healed completely. But I am sure it was not a brown recluse. Just a regular old spider. (I did it undiluted at the time, but now I recommend always diluting it.) And tea tree oil healed a growing infection my husband had in his knee from a suspected spider bite. His knee was swelling up and getting hot and red, and so he applied drops of tea tree oil. It took a week to heal completely. Lavender oil also began immediately healing a mosquito bite that turned into cellulitis on a two-year-old neighbor, and a blood infection from a burn on a friend’s knuckle. She had a black line running up her arm about eight inches. And we applied a couple drops along the vein, and within the hour it was almost completely gone.

  • GeriinTX says:

    I have been battling with a brown recluse bite (I think) for 3.5 months. Nothing seems to be working. The area on my rt. lower inner leg above my ankle is 3″x 4″ and is still very red and intensely itchy. It never got necrotic.
    I have tried benonite clay, with magnesium crystals in bath every night with essential oils, and bebonite clay applied as a mud pack, essential oils custom blend that I made up for bites and itching. I have had 9 hyperbaric oxygen treatments and 5 IV’s. Very costly!
    I had 2 antibiotic shots just to make sure it wasnt infected.
    The culture came back – for staph.
    I will start the Manuka Honey 20+ bioactive tonite.

    My alternative doc. sent to to a wound care specialist.The traditional wound care Dr. wants me to use Cloetasol Propionate corticosteriod Cream which states it may cause skin thinning and skin discoloration. I only used it twice and decided I didnt want a large area on my lower calf to have permanent skin discoloration.

    Thank you all for your suggestions. Hoping for some relief soon.

    • Kim says:

      I hope you healed well! Just a note re the steroid cream: it doesn’t heal you, it just suppresses the body’s immune response, which is the last thing you want. That prescription for corticosteroid cream is tremendously irresponsible. It’s a good thing you stopped using it.

  • J says:

    Great article,
    I was bit by a spider a few days ago. Before going to the doctor I rubbed a clove of garlic on the bite, the bite went away but my foot continued to swell up and turn red. I did not want to take any antibiotics as I know they are not necessarily good for your gut lining but unfortunately the infection from the bite was traveling up my leg. I decided to go ahead and take the antibiotics to be on the safe side. The doctor prescribed 4 daily for 7 days. So far I have only taken a few and I am not sure if I should continue taking them as I have ready so much negative things about the use of antibiotics.

    Is there any type of food/supplement to detox the body from the spider venom/poison?

    Thanks for your help and time

    • Anonymous says:

      I had a brown recluse bite on my right elbow. I was by myself and ran s fever and could not get to the doctor. I could barely move. I had Manuka Honey
      And applied it to the bite with gauze. Then I used I epacks 24/7 for five days. I took aspirin for the fever.
      After five days I could get to the doctor who lanced the wound and gave me antibiotics. I took them for thirty days.
      The initial bite spread so quickly that my forearm was red as was part of my upper arm. The honey and ice pack helped reduce the infection to a small section just above my elbow Fortunately I had no necrosis or loss of function.
      I took charcoal capsules to remove the toxins from my system after the antibiotic regimen.
      I will have these other suggestions on hand.
      We were in Mexico and my brother who is highly allergic to bee/wasp stings got stung. We were out in the jungle without Epipen. I grabbed a handful of mud- we were stay natural cave spring. I slapped it on the wasp sting. It dried. He never had a reaction. Usually he ended up in the emergency room.

  • Ami foreman says:

    HomeINsteader Walgreens brand band aids are made in the USA! I know this post was a couple years ago but thought I would share if you still hadn’t found one!

  • What has worked for me above everything is TerraSilk or Terramin on Amazon. Minerals are the foundation of what we are built from and just don’t get from food anymore with soils so depleted. There are 57 micron sized IONIC minerals and can get TerraSilk for skin or just get Terramin powder and use inside and out. I keep Terramin tablets and powder and use with my animals also. They have another one for them call Nutramin. There has been nothing that felt more healing. Would not have made it though eight dental implants and two sinus lifts without it as took away pain for even toothaches as didn’t have all the money for over three years and had to hang on. Would get toothaches so bad that head would explode. Took 20 min, but would stop when packed mineral powder around tooth. Brush teeth with them everyday and my receded minerals are growing back. Sometimes end with coconut oil for extra clean feeling. Good for teething babies too. This is the way healing was supposed to happen.

  • kim says:

    Hi! I am going to strongly suggest you look into using ‘Slippery Elm’ for multiple uses, but one grand use is to ‘suck out’ that which has found its way into the body : spider bites venom, splinters ,glass …. I just finished treating a bad spider bite -April 2014. It was noted at the end of the day, was purple, very sore and bruising had begun to the size of a quarter. Multiple bites could be seen. I was digging around in a closet that doesn’t get much activity…. I made a poultice of the slippery elm – about 1/8 tsp to make a slippery paste, covered with a band aid and went to bed. The next day after my shower at night, I retreated the area, and, went to bed. The area stayed sore for this time, but the bruising was better and it appeared to be healing. Third day the sorness was subsiding and the area continued to look better. I am healed after a couple of days. I am 60ish and don’t heal as quickly as the young.
    When my son was 8 he went on a trip to the shore, ran foot first hard and fast into buried drift wood. What a mess that foot was when i saw it. I told him I could treat,albeit with the same pain as he’d get going to the hospital, but I could do it. He allowed this. We scrubbed the area, picked out all the (obvious) splinters and finished with warm salt soak. It looked good doing soaks for a couple of days. He had no pain. We stopped the soaks. It healed over, he had no pain. For a day ….. We soaked again in warm salt water, I pricked open the area and applied slippery elm. Mind you, bottom of his foot and he’s 8 years old. He would be still for about 10 mins. then he’d have to get going. I did this for three applications- soak then apply slippery elm for 10 mins. The last time we were talking and I told him i could BARELY see a tiny bit of black in the area. “I am going to apply some pressure on either side of this and I want you to stay still….” OMG! I saw the darn thing FLY out and land on the floor. It was a thick piece of wood, 1 inch long that came out of his foot!!!!! OMG> Praise God! It healed after that without incident. Long story, good report 🙂

  • Sharon says:

    My sister’s 6 year old son was bitten by a brown recluse spider at a deer camp in their trailer that he was sleeping in. He was with his dad and it was two days before he arrived home. My sister immediately took him to the doctor as his arm was very swollen and the skin was rotting at the bite sight. The doctor put him on an antibiotic and said to come back in 2 days and he would start removing the necrosis. My sister knew of a lady who practiced natural health remedies so she called her. This lady told her not to worry that she would come right over and take care of it. She mud packed the bite using Premier Research Labs Medi-Body Pack and had him take some Garlicidin, which is a specific type of garlic that works like an antibiotic in the body. Because the bite was so serious due to not being treated right away, she also used castor oil packs on it. Lots of infection came out of the bite sight, but it all healed very nicely with no scar remaining.

    I also got bit by a brown recluse on my leg right under my knee. It was only about an hour after I got bit that I felt this extreme pain on my leg and I knew that something was not right. We were also traveling but arrived home in about an hour. I immediately used the Medi-body Pack as I keep this stuff on hand now. And also started taking the Garlicidin capsules. The bite was very painful for about a day, but healed very nicely within 3 days with no scar remaining.
    The Medi-body pack is a premium grade Volcanic and Kaolin clays with other healing herbs in it. We now live in Kansas and brown recluses are very active here. So I pay attention to my family members for any spider bites. The Clay works very well on all insect bites. I definitely recommend keeping this in the house. I don’t know what I would do for a very young child or baby besides the mud-packing. In fact I think I am going to call a few natural health doctors including the Dr. Bob Marshall’s office who makes the Medi-Body pack and ask about what to do for a baby or toddler in this situation.

  • Karen says:

    I was bit by a brown recluse spider (in 2001), on the neck and back while sleeping, in a hotel room. I am a very light sleeper so I woke up and saw the spider but did not realize I had been bitten. 2 days later I started experiencing flu-like symptoms and hurting all over. We returned home on Friday, two days after the bite, and by Monday the bite on my neck was starting to necrose. My doctor got me right in and diagnosed it as a brown recluse bite. She started me immediately on high doses of Dapsone (a drug used for patients with Leprosy). The horror story then started. I was allergic to Dapsone and my reaction to it was reduced oxygen in my system which caused respiratory failure and spent four days in CCU. After leaving I was on O2 for 2 months at home.

    I then started treatments for the bite. I had 6-7 stellate ganglian treatments which gave me some relief and confirmed that I had developed a disease called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. The doctor doing the procedures injected the bite sight on my neck with cortisone to reduce the necrosis, which worked.

    The spider venom did not attack my skin ( I had a dime sized area of necrosis), it attacked my sympathetic nervous system which caused the RSD. I also developed Fibromyalgia due to the RSD.

    I had to retire from my job due to extreme fatigue and pain which continue to this day. What this shows is that a brown recluse spider bite affects each person differently. I fall into the 1% of 10% of people who have been bitten on the neck and have developed sympathetic nerve damage.

    DO NOT ASSUME that because it is gone its done…according to scientists that study only brown recluse bites, the venom attaches itself to your cell structure and stays there. They have patients that have developed bite issues 10 years after their last episode.

    A horror story, definitely…an extreme, yes…but it can happen and does. Everyone’s system is different and everyone responds differently. Some respond well, as your son (thankfully) and others not so much. If you are bitten and you are sure it’s a brown recluse bite, there is a anti venom available that needs to be given within 24 hours. The problem is that most people o not realize they have been bitten.

    If you think this is too much or too extreme for your readers, please just delete it. I am very happy that your son is OK.

    • Joe says:

      The statement about the bite returning is for real! I was bitten 11 years ago on my little finger which caused redness, swelling, and severe joint pain. After about 3 months, it seemed to have gone away….BUT every year the symptoms and pain returns just about the same time as the initial bite! I thought this was total BS when I first heard about it, but it’s TRUE! Usually the venom spreads to the other hand and also causes pain, redness, and swelling. Sometimes a little top layer of skin will peel off. I’ve tried a million and one remedies but nothing seems to help…guess I’ll be dealing with this for the rest of my life! (60 something now).

  • Karen says:

    We’ve dealt with spider bites a few times. The first time my son had one we thought it was a boil and treated it for 4-5 days with raw honey and echinacea. It got worse and started bleeding which we had a hard time stopping. He went to emergency room, had surgery…lots of money and trouble involved with that. They said it was either a spider bite or staff, the wound was so clean from our treatments that they couldn’t tell for sure. After researching on internet I ordered Manuka Honey and also a spider bite kit ( which contains activated charcoal powder and liquid herbs to mix with the charcoal. I’ve used the kit twice on my children with fast growing spider bite wounds and it has worked wonderfully. The sooner you get it on the wound the faster it heals.

  • Carla says:

    I had a spider bite this past fall. I went to the doctor and had him look at it and he put me on Dapsone. Well you shouldnt take that if you have asthma (side effect). I started to have breathing problems. I took myself off that and researched what to do. I found the activated charcoal, but didnt know where to get it around where I live. So I used the baking soda paste and that seemed to work. I told my doctor what I had done, he asked if it worked and so I showed him my arm. Not even a very big scar. He was impressed. (He is very much for herbal medicine or alternatives other than pills).

  • Jaci says:

    I’m allergic to the glue on band aids and any other stick to the body patches (birth control)…always have been some people just are…my mom was too

  • Annette Langdon says:

    My husband was bitten about twenty years ago by a brown recluse that was hiding in his jeans..he went to the emergency room where he was given antibiotics,pain med. and antihistamines and sent home to be seen by his doctor in two days. By then his thigh had swollen twice the size and there were purple streaks all around the quarter size hole..he was rushed to surgery the plastic surgeon removed the size of and orange completely down to the muscle and wanted to do skin graffs but my husband refused to stay for 6 weeks. he had a slow recovery. What I learned about these bites is depending on the size and age of the spider and the amount of venom they put out will determine the damage to tissue.They told us at the hospital if my husband had waited much longer the venom would have reached his bloodstream and he would have died. Brown recluse bites should always be seen at a hospital that knows how dangerous they can be. Lucky for you yours was a small spider, but you should consider that wherever your son got bit there are more of these spiders that should be killed, usually live in dark damp places, usually kill off other species of spiders have a malformed web walk up on tip-toes.

  • Emily says:

    Just last week my 9yo son was complaining of an itchy bug bite. I glanced at it and it just looked a little red from scratching and I brushed him off. Lesson learned. Later he was still complaining and now saying he thought it was a spider bite. That got my attention. There was a huge red swollen area and it was hard and hot to the touch. He had had it at least a day before telling me. Add my brush off and that makes at least two days before treatment. Thankfully it didn’t look anything like Ty’s bite and he didn’t have any other symptoms so I’m like you, I didn’t think a trip to the doctor was needed. I jumped online and the quickest things I could find that I had on hand were plantain and echinacea tea and an ice pack. So I started with ice for 20 minutes then the chewed up plantain. I had him chew it then spit it on a paper towel. Then we used another paper towel to wrap around his arm (where the bite was) and duct taped it tight enough it wouldn’t fall off. The extra paper towel was to keep the duct tape off his skin. He wore it until it loosened up and started falling off. Maybe 30 minutes? The plantain takes the itch away almost immediately. Later (when the itching came back) we repeated the ice then put a paper towel soaked with echinacea tea, mint, & honey on for about 15 min. He drank some of the echinacea tea as well. Then he went to bed. Next day did the plantain bandage in the morning then put one on overnight and he drank a couple more glassed of the tea. Thankfully that was all it took. Just a little note, my son is highly intelligent, with a huge vocabulary….but he still has trouble communicating anything that has to do with feelings and sometimes other things. Like just whining about a bug bite instead of explaining that it felt different than any regular bug bite. My daughter would have described it in detail, but when he is hurt or upset, my son tends to be vague and whiny. So I am going to have to work harder to pay attention and make sure I get specifics from him in the future so that I don’t over look something extremely serious. I typed all that hoping maybe it would help someone else. Sorry for the length!

  • Monica says:

    We break out from the bandages in the exact shape of the adhesive part! Interesting.

  • Laurie B says:

    Excellent post, Kendra. Thanks for all of the great tips on the different natural healing remedies. Very useful!

  • Pam says:

    This kit looks like it would be really helpful and good to have on hand. It uses some of the ingredients you used on Ty. I’m really impressed with the pictures of how well your treatment worked.

  • HomeINsteader says:

    Brown recluse are, unfortunately, quite common. Yes, I’ve been bitten by them. Unfortunately, I wasn’t using holistic approaches to such at the time, so, won’t go into treatment.

    One thing I do want to point out, however: I have been trying to sound the alarm on the bandages and “band-aids” coming out of China (it seems they’re all coming out of China now). There is something in the adhesive that is not safe. I don’t know what it is, and I don’t know whether the brand makes any difference.

    I developed the nastiest skin infection I have EVER had from a “band-aid”; it wasn’t the most well known name, but, it was a known name, as I recall. The infection was EXACTLY the same size and shape as the band-aid; about four inches wide and three inches high; I had a time cleaning it out and getting it to heal. The wound, itself, was not nearly so big as the band-aid or the infection that resulted.

    If you can find a “band-aid” product that is still made in the USA, please share it. I haven’t been able to find one.

    “CAVEAT EMPTOR” – Let the Buyer Beware!

    • HomeINsteader-

      That is fascinating. You know, I’ve wondered about the adhesive. Our three year old daughter also broke out in a rash like Ty did the last few times I put band-aids on her. I don’t know what brand they were. I think they were J&J. Thank you so much for sharing this information. I’ll definitely be more cautious of what I use and buy, and will look into this more!!

  • Dede says:

    One other remedy for infections or spider bites is Absorbing Junior,
    It pulls poson out my regards Dede

  • April says:

    So glad you were able to treat it and give him some relief. With brown recluse you have to be so careful as
    It spreads very quickly. My best friends mom almost lost her leg to a brown recluse bite within a few days but thankfully the doctors were able to save it. Spider bites are so nasty. Every bit of knowledge can help you. Thanks for all the tips:-)

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