The white tail spiders are found mostly in the homes of Australia hidden in the places like bedding, beneath leaves, tea bark and rocks, on nooks and crannies or anything lying on the floor. These spiders are common in Tasmania and few other countries including New Zealand. They are medium in size and are native to Australia. White tail spiders have got their name because of their whitish tips at the end of abdomen. Cylindrical body of 1 to 2 cm, dirty grey or brown colour and glossy legs are some of the main characteristics of these spiders.
White tail spiders are actively mainly during the summer season. Usually their bite does not cause any harm but in severe cases the bite may cause deep ulcers and skin necrosis. Skin necrosis is a condition when the skin and flesh around the bite dies. Usually white tail spider bite has mild reaction like itching and discoloration of skin which may last for up to few weeks.
The spider venom is the mixture of substances having one or more components that causes clinical effects among humans. In the studies conducted, it is seen that white tail spider does not contain venom that can cause any harm to humans. Also, no such component was found that can cause skin damage. White spiders have weak venom, very less to cause envenomation.
Lampona cylindrata and Lampona murina are the two common species of white tail spiders. These types of spiders are nocturnal hunting ones, that feed on other spiders especially grey house spiders which are found on fences, car mirrors and in the webs on the outside of houses. These spiders seek out prey instead of spinning a web.
In case of white tail spider bite, there is no first aid treatment available as such except for one i.e. applying ice-packs to prevent swelling. The victim should not be given antibiotic rather should be taken to doctor immediately.
It is believed that white tail spider bite causes ulcers and skin damage but there is no scientific evidence for the same. The bite causes only mild local effects and is painful but only for short duration and pain does not lasts for long.
Following the commonly seen symptoms associated with white tail spider bite:
- Small lump
- Itching around the wound
- Discolouration of the skin
- Ulceration of wound
- Vomiting & nausea
Necrotising arachnidism is the condition characterized by the skin inflammation and ulceration caused by spider bites including the white tail spider bite. In very rare cases, the condition becomes so critical that the victim has to undergo extensive skin grafts.
In a nutshell, symptoms like blisters, weal and local ulceration when put together medically are termed are necrotising arachnidism. Necrotic lesions, marked by the characteristics like skin breakdown, loss and death can be a result of few other factors. These factors include improper blood circulation, diabetic condition, fungal and bacterial infections and burns. The venom and bacterial infection are also the factors in causing necrotising arachnidism
The treatments for necrotising arachnidism include medications such as antibiotics and corticosteroids, hyperbaric oxygen therapy and surgery.
Self care tips for white-tail spider bite
When the white tail spider bites, victim can expect the local pain for several hours and swelling around the bitten area for at least two days.
- In order to relieve stinging, anti-sting ointment like Soov or paste of baking soda & cold water or simply ice cubes can be applied
- Applying ice compress repeatedly after 2 to 3 hours will help reduce pain and swelling
- Unless necessary, refrain from taking pain relievers. If needed, Panadol can be used to relieve pain
- To relieve itching and swelling, antihistamines like Claratyne, Phenergan and Telfast can be taken
- If the spider bite has caused inflammation, creams containing hydrocortisone can be applied
Generally, white tail spider bite does not require any medical treatment because it does not contain venom. The area around wound should be cleaned with a disinfectant. If the victim feels pain, which lasts for long, then an oral pain killing drug. In extreme cases, when the patients develop the feeling of being unwell, blisters develop and skin discoloration occurs then it becomes important to seek medical help.
In order to prevent getting bitten from white tail spiders, certain measures can be taken. Since these spiders are active mainly during summers, care should be taken to shake out your clothes and bedding well before getting into it. Do not leave clothes lying on the floor; instead hang them up in the wardrobe because these spiders will get into the mounds of clothes left on the floor. Refrain from dark and shady places as these are the places where white tail spiders like to live.
White tail spider bite pictures