Australia has many animal and insect species that bite or sting
Redback spiders, funnel web spiders or unknown spiders
Scorpions and centipedes
White-tailed spiders are one of the most common spiders you will find in Australian homes. It tends to hide in bedding, or within clothes left on the floor.
In most cases, the bite from a white-tailed spider only causes a mild reaction, including itching and skin discolouration, which usually resolves after a few weeks. There are no specific first aid treatments for a white-tailed spider bite, except for the use of icepacks to help relieve the swelling. You should not use antibiotics. Always see your doctor if any spider bite does not clear up.
Regardless of whether you find a white tail spider, its a good precaution to make sure that you pick up clothes from the floor; check your baby/ child’s bed before putting them in, and shake your towels before use.
Different types of bites require different types of treatment.
In general, it is best to immobilise and bandage the bite area until medical treatment is available.
Apply firm pressure to spider, snake, octopus or blue bottle bites and stings.
Remove bee stingers by sliding a fingernail or credit card over the stinger.
Remove ticks embedded in the skin with tweezers and keep the insect to show to medical professionals. Try to get specific information about how to treat the kind of bite you are dealing with.
Here is what to do
First aid for insect bites and stings
Remove the sting, tick or hairs if still in the skin.
Wash the affected area with soap and water.
Apply a cold compress (such as a flannel or cloth cooled with cold water) or an ice pack to any swelling for at least 10 minutes.
If someone you are with is bitten by an animal or insect that you know is poisonous seek medical attention immediately.
Call triple zero (000) for an ambulance in an emergency.
Bandage the wound and keep the person immobile until medical help arrives.
Don’t cut or compress the wound – focus instead on keeping the person calm and reassured.
If the person collapses or stops breathing, you may need to perform CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) until medical help arrives. More information on CPR is in another section of the Sitter Train online course.
If you can – and it’s safe to do so – capture the animal or insect for identification purposes, in case anti-venom is required. If this is difficult, dangerous, or impossible, don’t risk your own safety doing so. Focus instead on calming the patient.
Sitter Train Pty Ltd acknowledges the co-operation of The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney Children’s Hospital and Kaleidoscope, Hunter Children’s Health Network in making this fact sheet available.
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