What is the treatment of red back spider bites?

Thank you to Sarah for submitting the following question:
I recently attended a course with you and I cant remember the treatment for red back spider bites. Is it pressure immobilisation or cold therapy? Thanks 🙂

Reply by Andy Panes – Director of Education

Hi Sarah,

The treatment of bites and stings can be one of the hardest skills to remember from a first aid course as there are so many different venomous animals and different treatments.

The first aid management of red back spider bite includes the following.

  1. Apply a cold compress for localised pain relief (packet of frozen pea’s or wrapped ice)
  2. Watch for signs of a major allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)
  3. Seek medical attention
  4. Tetanus immunisation status should be updated if necessary in any circumstances where skin has been punctured under unclean conditions

Pressure immobilisation technique is NOT recommended for the treatment of red back spider bites since this may increase the severity of localised pain.

Antivenom may be required for bites with more than mild to moderate local pain or with systemic symptoms or signs of envenomation, such as headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting.

I hope this helps and stay away from those spiders!

Andy Panes

Andy Panes

Andy is the Director of Education at Paradise First Aid, a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) providing first aid education to the Gold Coast community. He manages a team of dedicated staff and trainers and is responsible for the overall management of Paradise First Aid's partnering organisations across Australia. Prior to establishing one of the Gold Coasts best known first aid training companies, Andy worked as an Emergency Department Technician in a metropolitan Emergency Department in the south west of England. He has also worked in the private and voluntary sector delivering vital medical services at large events in the UK and Australia including Glastonbury and Reading Festival, Big Day Out, Summafieldayze, Ekka, Gold Coast Show, Suncorp Stadium, The Gabba and many more. Andy also manages 'Gold Coast First Aid Facts', a community FaceBook page dedicated to providing the community with lifesaving first aid information.
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