What It’s Really Like to Be Bitten by a Redback Spider

I think you know what’s coming. But before that, an important message.

I realise that some of you may have found this page because you have just been bitten by a Redback Spider and you want to know what to do. You are looking for urgent medical advice.

Here it is…

Redback Spider First Aid AdviseOn with the post. This is the story of when I was bitten, what it was like and why I didn’t go to hospital. I did seek medical advice though, speaking to a doctor and you will be able to read the advice I was given.

Finally, in the comments below you will find stories from many people who have been bitten by the redback and how it was for them.

The Australian Redback Spider

One of Australia’s most feared spiders is the Redback. Just before I moved here to Australia, one of my friends back in the UK who had lived and worked in Australia for a year at some point, told me that Redbacks were so strong and powerful that they could actually bite your foot through your thongs. (That’s flip-flops to us English).

Dave, you were talking twaddle!

But what is it really like to be bitten by a Redback Spider? The chances of finding out are quite remote, most sources quote around 2,000 Redback bites occur in Australia each year. So by my maths I would have a one in 10,000 chance of finding out.

Lucky, lucky me……… On Saturday, I found out!

So here’s what happened. On Saturday at around four o’clock in the afternoon, as the sun was getting cooler, I decided to do a bit of tidying up in the garden. It’s autumn here and a perfect time for trimming back the weeds and the overgrowth just ahead of winters dry weather.

By about a 5:45 PM I’d finished chopping off all the excess growths and I was picking up all of my trimmings in large bunches, carrying them up the driveway and throwing them all into one big pile. It was getting quite dark so I couldn’t really see much.

All of a sudden, whilst transporting one of these bunches I became aware of intense pain in the back of my wrist. The pain grew quite fast and although I have never hammered a nail into any part of my body, this was how I imagined it would feel.

As the pain grew even more, I decided to go in doors and take a look at it under the light. This is what I saw……

redback biteNothing!

Well, if anything, a very very tiny barely visible white mosquito bite like bump was all I could see. But the area around the pain was starting to look red and flushed.

Then it started to sweat, but just in that little circle where the pain was, nowhere else. I’ve never seen anything like it. I took a shower…….. that’s just something I like to do now and then…… and I washed off all the sweat at the same time. But out of the shower after having dried myself, I watched as the beads of sweat formed another circle around the back of my wrist again.

But by now the intense nail penetration like pain of before was fading, which was good news. But that pain was being replaced by a new, burning pain, which was bad news. But given the choice though, I preferred the burning.

Intrigued, I decided I would ask Google Australia what had bitten me, so I searched for “identify bite sweat” because for me, the localised sweating was the identifying factor. And that’s when I discovered that most of my search results led to the Redback Spider bite.

“Can’t be,” I thought “those things kill!” (Well, they haven’t since 1956.)

The more I read about the Redback bite, the more likely it seemed that it was a Redback that bit me.

  • Bites occur typically when the spider is disturbed in the garden or shed. (Tick)
  • The initial bite may not be felt. (Tick)
  • Puncture marks are not always visible. (Tick)
  • Local intense pain follows after about five minutes. (Tick, probably, I didn’t feel the bite remember.)
  • Localised sweating often occurs around the bite. (Tick)
  • May cause a burning sensation. (Tick)

By now it was around 6:30 PM and many of the websites I had visited advised anyone bitten to seek immediate medical attention. But I was feeling just fine and to be truthful, the pain subsided and was now really quite manageable. My only symptom was still the red flushing, some burning and the 2 inch circle of sweaty and very sticky skin.

But I had also read in my research that the Redback Spider’s venom was very slow acting and took a long time to find its way around your body. I didn’t like the idea of turning green and warty at midnight and thinking “Dang! I should have got some antivenom.” So I telephoned my doctor who was very helpful last time we had an emergency out of hours.

My Doctors Advice

He was out but his wife (also a doctor) answered the phone and she was very helpful. Here’s what she had to say….

Lots of people get bitten by Redback Spiders and for most it is not a problem. It is only a very small minority who suffer a reaction and if it is going to happen, it will happen within around three hours. So the next couple of hours are critical. If you suffer from palpitations, nausea, vomiting, headaches, difficulty breathing, abdominal pains or a fever any time before 9 PM, get yourself to a hospital. We don’t carry the antivenom here at our local surgery.

Take an antihistamine tablet if you have one, use an ice pack to ease the pain if you want to and drink plenty of water.

Well I didn’t take an antihistamine, I didn’t use an ice pack but I did take some of her advice about drinking plenty of water. When I say “some”, I took note of the “drink plenty” part and ignored the “of water”. I hit the beer fridge!

Well, that’s what happened when I got bitten by a Redback Spider. Was it a Redback? Well, just after I came off of the phone to the doctor, Beninoz and his family arrived. We were having a slap up a pizza together. Yum!

Before I told him anything of my research, I showed him the bite and asked him what he thought it was. “Redback” was his answer. The next day I spoke to Lisa, a born and bred Aussie who was bitten by a Redback when she was a little girl.

Did you get the burning? Did you get the intense pain? Was there no sign of an actual bite? Sounds like a Redback to me.” was her verdict.

Medical disclaimer!

I can never be 100% certain it was a Redback bite, but I would say I am 90% sure. For me, it was nowhere near as bad as I would have thought it would be. Getting bitten by a Redback Spider would have ranked really high on my list of things NOT to do. Now that it has happened, well, it wasn’t so bad.

Maybe I’m just lucky I’m not one of the minority who react badly, maybe my Redback was just a tiny little Redback, maybe my Redback got brushed off of my wrist before she had finished envenomation, or maybe my Redback wasn’t a Redback at all.

Either way, my experience wasn’t that bad. But according to my research, around 250 Redback Spider antivenom are administered each year here in Australia. So it sounds to me like over 10% of those bitten do react badly and will need medical attention, which is what many websites recommend that you seek. Which is, I suppose, what I did, having phoned my doctor.

So I am not going against the advice given in any other website, I’m just letting you know what happened to me. If it had been my daughter who was bitten, she’d have been straight off to hospital. But I will say that the Redback Spider bite, for some, may well not be anywhere near as bad as you thought it would be.

If you’ve been bitten by a Redback Spider, I’d love to hear if you think it was a Redback that bit me. What was your experience like? There’s no need to register, just enter your comment below.

Did anything else happen on Saturday? Yes, actually it did. And this event really should have ended in death. But I’ll tell you about that tomorrow.

redback spider

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Update: December 2013

Redback Spider antivenom doesn’t work!

Yes, apparently it’s true. We had a comment from Jenn below (19th of December 2013) who had been bitten by a Redback Spider and despite being in some quite obvious trouble, the doctors treating her did not use antivenom.

They gave her steroids, antihistamines, she was put on a nebuliser and I believe also given adrenaline. But no antivenom. This surprised me so I did a little research, and found an article from just last month by ABC News.

That’s comforting, isn’t it? It will be interesting to see how this one develops.

Update: March 2014

Not so fast! Let’s get a second opinion on this from a doctor who has treated many envenomated patients over the years. See what he has to say in my post…

Update: May 2014

There was one more question I wished I had asked in the above-mentioned interview, but I forgot. It’s a question that has also been raised and answered in the comments below, but it would have been lovely to have got the opinion of an expert such as Professor Julian White.

Fortunately for me I got a second chance, and you can read the answer by visiting the following post…

Update: February 2018

I’m sure my doctors advice was pretty accurate for most cases, but it seems there are always exceptions to the general rules. If you look at a comment made below by John Cliff, February 23, 2018, 9:53 pm, he suffered a scary reaction to his Redback bite more than 24 hours after the event. So, in his case, the reaction didn’t happen “within around three hours“.

Fortunately for John, antivenin from the hospital saved the day.

Visa Assessment Service
{ 487 comments… add one }
  • Lily October 29, 2022, 9:26 am |

    Sounds worse than the severe heartburn l had a couple of times which l thought was a heart attack.
    Sudden onset, sweating profusely, vomiting, cramping pain around my stomach, altered mental awareness.
    No obvious cause, so l thought at the time.
    The first time the ambo had to give me 7.5mg Morphine in order for me to walk to the ambulance.
    I was under observation & 2 L of saline & glucose over 5 hours, inconclusive (didn’tneed tk urinate at al !!!) ,but the suggestion was it may’ve been gastritis.
    The second time l only needed Panadol, & was well enough to walk out within the hour & a glass of water. No abnormalities re heart.
    So the moral of the story is that after much research, l found out it was actually severe heartburn which can be triggered by many things, possibly different things for different people too.
    Eg stress, insomnia, coffee on an empty stomach, acidic food, a stomach ulcer, cold weather, food poisoning, too many nsaids/anticoagulants. (eg aspirin) spicy food. So MY ideology is that one should drink a glass of water & take an antacid, a panadol, if you’re not starting to feel better within 10 mins ,then maybe call the ambos ?
    It wouldn’t heart to check your heart health as a general matter of course & perhaps invest in a blood pressure machine & know what a normal heart rate & rhythm is like too
    The first time my trigger I now know was eating a little raw onion whilst I was preparing dinner, (curry) & having a cup of hot chocolate. Second time it was after vomiting after eating dodgy takeaway the evening before.

    • BobinOz November 1, 2022, 4:03 pm |

      Well I have never had severe heartburn, but I have been bitten by a redback and what you are describing sounds much worse than my reaction to the bite. That said, other people who have been bitten by a redback have had experiences far worse than yours.

      So, I suppose it’s a case of depends on the heartburn and depends on the redback spider bite, every case is different. Hope you are feeling better now.

  • Lisa May 5, 2022, 2:33 pm |

    Long post…..I Am recovering from a suspect red back spider bite, and so glad to hear peoples varying stories. I’ve been backtracking my movements to find out the time and place of the bite as I don’t have a ‘bite site’. At about 8.30pm at night I felt immense tingling in both my feet and thought it’s been a big day, I’ll put my feet up. The moment I did I realised that this was worse than aching feet. The tingling, burning feeling travelled up to my shins in a deep,painful ache that also went above my knees. My soles of my feet felt like someone was stabbing them. (Another lady described the pain as nothing she has ever experienced, me too! Giving birth was a walk in the park compared to this!)The backs of my legs felt swollen and I thought I’d re injured my knees. I was tired so went to bed. I took pain killers and nothing helped. I had my feet raised and was sweating profusely from my waist down. My feet started swelling with my hands throughout the night, I had chills, teeth chattering, could hardly walk. Endone, nurophen, Panadol wouldn’t work.managed an hours sleep. Went to hospital at 10am and sat in triage for 2.5 hours writhing in pain sweating and shaking until I complained. They finally put me through to a waiting bay where I could at least lay down. The nurse took lots of blood, no doctor came to see me for at least another hour. My heart rate and temperature was always normal. The gave me intravenous anti inflammatories, Panadol forte, tested my reflexes. Ignored the fact I was sweating and shivering. Wanted to give me an MRI, they thought it could have been a pinched nerve as it was both my feet. Couldn’t get me into MRI for 3 days, so doctor says we can put you in a ward for 3 days to wait for MRI or we can send you home. Comes back in to check on me a 20 mins later, And asks me if I’m ready to go home? I insisted I stay in hospital over night as I cannot manage this pain alone! So admitted to emergency overnight ward. No one could work it out, or make connections. I told them I’d been gardening the day before with my 20 month old grandson, checking troughs, mowing etc. kept thinking it was a bite,. They all is or the fact I was sweating profusely, I gave myself hot showers to relieve my legs and feet and wash the sweat off! And they checked my reflexes again. The night nurse came on and gave me some lictacane ? Nerve pain killer and that seemed to take my pain from a 10 to a 7, by morning I described it as a 3. New doctor on his morning rounds, came in listened to my story …. And said…are you sweaty? OMG, I nearly cried with relief someone was going to listen to me. His explanation was that he has seen this bilateral pain, tingling, stabbing in feet in red back bite victims, along with no pain relief working and the sweating.
    This was 36 hours after onset. He gave me steroids, antihistamine, Panadol and sent me home with Valium to calm the effects down. I went home to bed still sweating that night and tingling pain down to a 2. I am now day 5 and still having bed rest. I am lethargic, occasionally shaky and still have tingling in my feet. Hot showers and baths relieve the symptoms. Most things that I have read say 48 hours to get over a bite, but allow up to a week. I’m hoping that in a couple of days I will have my mojo back. Hope my story helps someone ?

    • Spiderman May 5, 2022, 3:40 pm |

      What no anti venom?? Ridiculous feel better soon!

      • BobinOz May 6, 2022, 4:57 pm |

        Yes, I hope you get better soon as well Lisa, sounds like you’ve been through a horrendous experience. @ Spiderman, I know you were given a couple of doses of antivenom, but as I mentioned to you, a lot of doctors are reluctant to use it as there can be complications.

        On the other hand, some doctors do think it needs to be used, and one of the links above is to an interview with one such doctor who has used antivenom many times. I suppose it’s the luck of the draw whether you get it or not and then the luck of the draw again if it works for you or causes further problems.

        Sounds like you are over the worst of it Lisa, hope you make a full recovery very quickly.

        • Spiderman May 6, 2022, 5:37 pm |

          Wow bob I didn’t know that, I’m not sure I could of lasted without it the burning ?. Funny I still check my jeans to this day spider ptsd haha. I guess being aware is a good thing. Anyhow best of luck to all our minority club members.

  • spiderman May 4, 2021, 1:57 pm |

    Well here’ my fun with one, went to visit a friend sitting in their pergola, must of been under the chair. I got home 3hrs later..walking up hallway felt like what felt like an ant bite in my leg. Must of crawled up my jeans ekkk!! went to hospital had pain medications , but 2 days later burning intense in feet fingers abdomen i wasnt sleeping at all. Returned to hospital given 2 lots of antivenom burning went away thankgod. So now I’m dealing with the mental side spraying like a mad man surface spray and from now on checking clothing. whold think a thing like that could be so damn deadly. Still feeling lethargic after it all..so im just taking it easy this week. Whatch those spiders people keep your area’s clean.

    • BobinOz May 6, 2021, 5:35 pm |

      Two lots of antivenom, wow, you must have been in a bad way. My understanding is they try not to give antivenom if they can help it. Hope you are starting to feel a lot better now and once it has happened to you, it is easy to get a bit paranoid looking for spiders.

      Once bitten, as they say…

      • Spiderman May 6, 2021, 7:00 pm |

        Thanks BobinOz, Feeling better just some local sensitivity bite area, and odd nerve pains that come n go . I guess we have to learn to live with our little friends ?, Without being too obsessed . This website helped a lot thankyou ?.

        • BobinOz May 10, 2021, 6:49 pm |

          Glad to hear you are feeling better and you are welcome 🙂

  • Gervaise Pass April 18, 2021, 7:24 am |

    Hi everyone it’s been good reading the comments makes me feel not so alone. I’m 24hrs post spider bite, I put my dressing gown on early yesterday morning and after almost four hours I felt a severe sting on my arm, then another under my arm. I quickly ripped off my gown shaking it – nothing – figured it must of been an ant then the last shake a large female red back dropped on the floor. I was quiet calm and thought this doesn’t seem that bad – well was I wrong about that. My husband rang 000 and they sent an ambulance around took about an hour, in this time the pain at the site grew intensely and I’ve was the only thing that helped.. the ambos arrived having never seen a bite before they had to google and ring poisons. I was doing the right thing and advised me to go to the local GP for a tetanus, which I did I asked for strong pain relief and was refused ( the doctor was about 28 and again never experienced a red back bite he said if things worsen just come on back. By this time my entire arm was on fire and I felt very lethargic and like I’d been drugged. Went to chemist to get my Panadol Neurofen and antihistamine which I later found did nothing at all. Throughout the day the pain went into my legs and severely in my feet with tingling and numbness, I was very confused and out of sorts. Went to bed attempted to sleep and did not have a wink all night had the feeling of restless leg syndrome with burning pain in the feet and my whole arm was on fire. I’ve also had a histamine response and I’m itchy everywhere. Shall be heading to the doctors for some stronger meds – they could of saved me a trip., hopefully this subsides soon??

    • Heather Clark April 18, 2021, 8:01 am |

      Gervaise, Hi,
      The thought of the bite under your arm make me feel quite sick.
      If I were you I wouldn’t go back to the doctor I would go to the nearest hospital.
      Not many people/medicos understand redback spider bites but you are more likely to find a person in a hospital who has had some experience or at least be willing to make inquiries.
      I found icing the bite site gave some relief but I ended up with a cocktail of pain killers the strongest of which was Oxycodone, also Panadol Optizorb and Nurofen. (I don’t take pain killers, I just cope, but this pain is different.)
      I get a bad reaction to antihistamines also and found they did not help.
      If you can’t go to a hospital and returning to the doctor is the only option tell him the pain is unbearable.
      You are experiencing nerve pain which doesn’t really have a site – it just seeks out the weakest parts of your body -or that is my conclusion.
      I hope you get some relief, but in the mean time frozen peas help!
      Please let me know how you go and email again if you are still having trouble.
      All the best, Heather.

    • BobinOz April 19, 2021, 6:48 pm |

      Hi Gervaise
      Sounds like you have had a rough time of it, I do hope things start to get better soon. I am in full agreement with Heather on this, you need something stronger to cope with the pain, and it would be good if someone could look at the other symptoms you are getting as well and maybe give you something for that too.

      So the nearest hospital emergency department may be the best way to go, as Heather has said. I hope you get this under control soon, let us know how it goes if you can.

  • Scotto March 5, 2021, 8:09 pm |

    Hi there I got bitten by a spider in an outhouse some years ago on the back of knee and the pain felt like a cigarette being put out on me,I had no symptoms of any kind but next morning I could see all blue and green veins running up and down leg from bite I assumed it was red back bite does that fit the bill of red back or maybe some other spider???

    • Heather March 6, 2021, 9:17 am |

      After I was bitten I read as much as I could about redback bites.
      Your case doesn’t seem to fit a redback, but on the other hand, who knows?
      Redback bites seem to have a different ‘treat’ for everyone.

      • BobinOz March 9, 2021, 8:37 pm |

        It doesn’t sound like a redback spider bite to me either, but as Heather says, who knows? There are lots of comments from people here that have been bitten by a redback though, and I don’t think anyone has mentioned a burning sensation and when I was bitten, initially I felt no pain at all.

        I think you were bitten by something else, but I wouldn’t have a clue what.

  • Anni Weise February 20, 2021, 8:36 am |

    I was bitten by a redback a week ago. At a barbecue across the road in the evening, my lower leg between knee and ankle suddenly became painful with a burning sensation. I went home and the pain became intolerable, ice packs did nothing, nor neurofen or bourbon shots. By 5.30 am no relief, called an ambulance and was taken to hospital, plenty of morphine, also to no avail.Got sent home, by now my toes on both feet were in excruciating agony. Then it moved to my fingertips.This pain persisted for 3 days, couldn’t eat all this time. Next the sweating! Between breasts and waist, it was profuse, dry shirt every 10 minutes until I had none left. Thank goodness my daughter came and washed everything and cooked me some food. A week later I still have headaches each day and feel weak and lethargic. I am 62, generally fit and active, gave birth to 4 kids and have a really high pain threshold, never have felt such pain. Feb 2021

    • Heather Clark February 20, 2021, 8:54 am |

      My commiserations.
      Check my previous posts.
      Almost one year on and I still am effected. My toes have not recovered feeling and I have general numbness in both feet.
      I’m much more nervous around spiders than I used to be and keep my shoes safely and always bang them together before putting them on. One doesn’t recover from, or forget a redback bite in a hurry – I’m thinking never.
      The pain is ridiculous.
      Hope you feel better soon but with me it took months before I had pain free days and my previous energy returned.
      Good luck.

      • BobinOz February 22, 2021, 5:08 pm |

        My commiserations to both of you acclamation Mark

        Firstly, Heather, very sad to hear that you are still affected by your spider bite after almost a year. I looked back through the old comments, you were actually bitten sometime in April 2020. To still be suffering now is quite something, and although I suspect it’s quite rare, it’s not unheard of. By memory I think at least a handful of people in these comments have mentioned that they have had ongoing problems long after the bite.

        I do hope that at some point things go back to normal for you.

        Anni, sounds like you have been through a very painful experience. I just hope your pain doesn’t last as long as it has for Heather, and as I’ve said above, the odds are in your favour as only a handful of people appear to have experienced long-term effects of this bite.

        Good luck to both and I hope at some point all that remains will be memories of the pain and nothing more.

        • Heather March 6, 2021, 9:13 am |

          Thank you Bob

  • Ray February 15, 2021, 12:01 pm |

    I was bitten in 1982. Doc said for a healthy young man it shouldn’t be a problem. The pain was off the scale. He gave me morpheein pills and told me to take every 4 hours. Was cleared up in a couple of days. A couple of beers also seemed to help. Glad it wasn’t a funnel web. Nowhere near as bad as the small stone fish that stung me in the thumb.

    • BobinOz February 18, 2021, 3:41 pm |

      Yes, I would think the redback spider, for most people anyway, would be a walk in the park compared to the stone fish or the deadly funnel-web spider. I have written a post about the stone fish, got a few comments from people who have been hit by that thing, and yes, I’m convinced it must be the worst pain in the world, well at least on a par with the irukandji jellyfish.

      Of course, we have all of those things in Australia and you’ve already experienced the pain from two of them, I certainly hope you don’t get to try out the other two. Here’s a link to the post about the stone fish, if you fancy a read…


  • Vicky McCann December 21, 2020, 10:06 am |

    Bob, you didn’t have a true experience of a red back bite so why say it was a red back when you are only guessing? You’re stretching the truth, it sounds more like you had a white tail bite or garden spider bite.
    Just so you know, a red back’s bite would be on par with the pain from a kidney stone, except extended across a couple of days.
    I wouldn’t dismiss the power of the red back’s venom, you’ll know what I’m saying when you really do get bitten.


    • BobinOz December 22, 2020, 4:20 pm |

      Why did I think it was a redback spider bite? Well, I wasn’t guessing, as you suggest.

      I googled my symptoms and the first thing that came up was redback spider bite. Then I found a site that listed information about the redback spider bite, and I got six out of six ticks. I’ve listed them above, you did read the article, didn’t you?

      Then I phoned my doctor and she explained how I should deal with said redback spider bite, which by implication suggests she thought from what I had said to her that it was such a bite. Then a friend of mine came round and looked at the bite site mark and straightaway said he thought it was a redback spider bite.

      The next day I spoke to a friend of mine, Aussie born and bred, and she was also certain I’d been bitten by redback.

      I even spoke with Professor Julian White (MB, BS, MD, FACTM), Consultant Clinical Toxinologist and Head of Toxinology at the Women’s & Children’s Hospital, Adelaide, at a later time, about my experience. I wanted to know if some people are a little bit immune to the redback spider bite, and I was hoping I might have been one of them, given my reaction to this bite.

      You can read his full response by clicking the link in the above article towards the end, but the bottom line is that he said it very much depended on a number of factors he listed in the article, which can result in a bite of minimal effect, such as mine, to severe effects, such as those mentioned by the many people have described their experiences in the over 400 comments on this page.

      If you were to take the time to read those comments, then you would realise that yes, everyone’s experience has been massively different, ranging from severe and debilitating to pretty much very little pain at all. So every redback spider bite is different, including the one that you had.

      So I think I have every right to assume it was a redback spider bite, but hey, if you want to think it wasn’t one, you go for it if it makes you feel better about yourself, after all, it is Christmas week, tis the season to be jolly happy eh?

  • Heather Clark May 16, 2020, 11:15 am |

    I am a 75 year old female and had an encounter with a redback nearly five weeks ago.
    I know it was a redback because it was dead but recognisable when I shook it out of my shoe.
    Went through a terrible night of pain, worst pain ever, I kept telling them it was 15 when they asked me to rate it out of 10, at the hospital where they tried everything in the way of pain relief that they had in their cupboard.
    Nothing worked, but I finally went home with Oxycodone, Nurofen and Panadol and bumped up the recommended dose quite a lot.
    They told me the pain often increased at night which I found to be very true.
    The pain lasted, but lessened over the next week or so.
    I read all the comments with interest but no one mentioned the problem I have, which is:
    The site of the bite, my second toe, although invisible at the time of the bite now looks like a purple bruise although not sore like a bruise, but really painful most of the time. Sometimes it still needs icing at night, and the purple patch is spreading over the toe and getting darker.
    I also have a constant headache.
    I just thought I’d add this because it is a bit different and because someone else may have the same symptoms.

    • BobinOz May 18, 2020, 6:24 pm |

      Hi Heather

      Wow, it does sound like you have been one of the unlucky ones. As you can see, lots of people talking about their experiences of being bitten by a redback here, but most people don’t suffer as bad as this. I reckon about 10% to 20% of people who have told the stories here have had a 10+ when it comes to the pain threshold, and some were so bad they did get antivenin, which for the most part, doctors are hesitant to use.

      They prefer the painkiller approach and that’s clearly what you got. I do hope the pain continues to subside.

      I had a search through, and the worst anyone has mentioned a toe getting was from Kerrianne, you can read her comment here…


      I don’t recall anyone mentioning turning purple though, so that’s a new one. Plenty of talk about very painful toes though, burning mainly, and someone mentioned a toe turning pink. Hope you make a full recovery soon.

      Cheers, Bob

      • Heather Clark May 19, 2020, 8:36 am |

        Hi Bob,
        Thank you for answering.
        And thank you for the link, although it sounds as though it may not have been a redback to me either. Redbacks are not keen on coming inside.
        My toe remains the same as of writing.
        There is very little scientific knowledge about the effects of a red spider each one seems to be different, it’s basically suck it and see.
        Sites like this are very helpful. The rarity of redback spider bites mean that it will probably never be studied.
        If I learn any more about my situation which may help others I will let you know.
        Kind regards

        • BobinOz May 19, 2020, 6:56 pm |

          I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there Heather, of all the comments here, it does seem that every redback bite is different, there is no set pattern.

          I did an interview with Prof White, I think the link is on this page somewhere, and he pretty much suggested that the difference was down to just how much venom the spider has managed to inject. But even so, you would expect some kind of pattern, but there doesn’t seem to be one, everyone has a different story to tell.

          Thanks for letting us know about yours.

          • Heather May 20, 2020, 9:19 am |

            Hi Bob,
            I read Prof White’s interview with interest.
            When I was bitten the spider was in my shoe and it was pretty much fighting for its life!
            It was quite a big female also, I’ve heard conflicting views on the biting abilities of the male
            And I am not very big, about 52kg, plus my age.
            These things have a bearing and none of them are favourable.
            Although I’ve heard of large men much younger than me having a terrible outcome from a bite.
            Confusing? Absolutely. Interesting? Yes.

  • Dashford March 28, 2020, 6:16 am |

    Great post Bobinoz! I actually live in Dubai where we also have Redback spiders. I came across your post coz I was researching about the bite. I actually don’t think I was bitten by one although the local clinic told me I was. I’m curious though. Here’s my story …

    I don’t remember a bite but I remember some pain on my inner thigh one evening after sitting out in the garden. Not bad pain at all actually – I didn’t even inspect it. But the next day I was in a lot of pain and limping badly. Part of my leg had turned black. This scared me so I went to the clinic. I was feeling a bit nauseous by now and sweating a lot. They found a small bite mark. They gave me fluids and I soon felt better – just pain in the leg. I was prescribed ice, antihistamines and painkillers. They also had me rub some sort of tar on the bite once per day and put a gauze on it (no tight bandage though). On day 3 when I took the gauze off to apply the next load of tar, a “plug” of the tar came out. This left a narrow hole in my leg. The plug was about an inch long so I guess that’s how deep the hole was. Lots of blood flowed but this soon clotted and it scabbed and healed nicely. The pain slowly went, as did the blackness. After the scab healed there was literally no mark.

    Pretty sure it wasn’t a Redback bite even though they told me it was. Any idea anyone?

    • BobinOz April 2, 2020, 6:48 pm |

      Hi Dashford, glad you enjoyed this post.

      So, from what you say, it’s hard to tell what might have bitten you. You say you don’t remember the bite, that’s how it was for me when I was bitten by a redback spider, like yourself I just became aware of some pain at some point in the evening. There was no bite mark for me, just a round red sticky patch, but I think others in these comments have mentioned having a small bite mark.

      Similarly, nausea, sweating, and I think even limbs turning black have also been mentioned by some in the comments, so again, these could all be signs of a redback bite.

      The only thing that you went through that nobody else has mentioned as far as I’m aware, is that tar they had you rub into the wound site or the kind of wound that you say you were left with. I can’t remember anyone mentioning having a deep hole and lots of blood. So none of those bits sound like a redback to me but quite a few of the other bits do.

      So, as I’ve said, it’s difficult to say. Maybe it was or maybe it wasn’t, but if you have the time, I’d skim through these comments here and have a good read of what other people’s experiences have been like to see if they help you decide whether it was or wasn’t a redback.

      I suppose the main thing though is that you have recovered and you seem to be okay now. Thanks for your comment, Bob

  • Liz Holland December 1, 2019, 8:01 pm |

    I was bitten by a redback female 2 weeks ago, 16 November. I walked through a side door into the garage and felt a web go across my foot. On looking down I saw a very large redback sitting on my foot. I flicked her off with my car key but somehow she jumped back onto my foot. I flicked her off again and my hubby, for whom I had yelled, dispatched it with his thong. I did not know that I had been bitten. There was no mark at all but as the afternoon progressed so the tingling and pain and sweating around the bite site (my right ankle) started. I phoned the Medibank 24 hour nurse who said there was very little that can be done, just apply cold packs and take Panadol for the pain. I had a sleepless night on the Saturday and Sunday night with vomiting on the Sunday through the night. Monday I went to the ED and was given stronger meds. I still have itching around the bite site which after a couple of days became a red spot, then a darker spot and now there is a bit of redness but the pain is gone. I am copying (this next bit) what I posted onto Facebook.

    What I have learnt about redback spider bites.
    *the bite is not obvious, no fang punctures to be seen.
    *the bite itself is not what causes the pain, it is the venom. In other spider bites necrosis (flesh dying) sets in but not with redback bites.
    *it is the worst pain that I have ever experienced other than a burst appendix. (that includes child-birth, which compared to this is a doddle!)
    *the pain is all encompassing and constant and it radiates to other parts of the body.
    *normal analgesics are not enough to handle the pain, the big guns ( 2 oxycodin +2 Nurofen +2 Panadol, 6 hourly) have to come into play to bring the pain down to tolerable levels.
    * sweating profusely around the bite and further afield is a given. (My legs sweated like I was melting!)
    *vomiting is par for the course.
    *sleep becomes impossible, I had about four hours in two nights. (I couldn’t stand the blanket or mattress touching my legs)
    *don’t fool around, seek medical advice (painkillers!) immediately.
    *anti-venom is not recommended as it can cause problems.
    *children can die, adults stand a better chance.
    Day 4 and my right foot is still very painful but the radiated pain has subsided.

    • BobinOz December 2, 2019, 3:56 am |

      Sounds like you’ve had a very nasty experience with this bite. I will add though that every bite is not the same, it mostly depends on how much venom is injected by the spider. So what you experienced with your bite won’t necessarily be the experience of others, and if you were to get bitten again, and I hope you don’t, it may not be as bad as it was on this occasion and scarily, it could be worse.

      If you read through all the comments here, everyone has a different story. Some have suffered more than you and others, like me, got off light.

      It’s a bad lottery. Hope you make a full recovery and thanks for sharing.

    • simon pockley December 2, 2019, 6:11 am |

      Yes, I had similar delayed (but excruciating) pain. In my case, I didn’t know I had been bitten on the elbow until I woke up with the pain about 3 hours later dreaming that my arm was being sawn off. But I was fine the next morning.

  • Joanne Wright November 1, 2019, 11:56 am |

    I was bitten by a redback on the elbow in april 2014 at approx 7pm. The pain was a searing burn up my arm. I went to our local hospital at 9pm once i worked out what had bitten me and found the spider. They observed me for 1 1/2 hrs and then sent me home with analgesics. I took some more tablets at 1.30am. At 3.30am i woke with a searing headache, ache throughout my body, dry mouth, nausea and a pain in my lower back that felt like someone was ripping my kidneys out. An ambulance was called. I passed out in the ambulance (good place to do it!) and came to in the emergency department. My blood pressure was dangerously low and my blood sugars were 2 (I’m not diabetic) so i had to drink juice and eat before i could be treated. Once i was stable, I was given 1round of antivenom in resusc which sent my pain level from an 11/10 to about a 5. They then decided that i needed another round approx 4hrs later which completely removed the pain and all other symptoms. After observing me for another 2 hrs i was then given the all clear to go home. In my instance, the antivenom worked really well.

    • BobinOz November 4, 2019, 6:38 pm |

      There is a lot of reluctance to use the antivenom due to potential adverse reactions, but when it is used and it does work, I have been told it does the job well.

      If you look at the link underneath the March 2014 update, you’ll find an interview I had with a professor who is an expert in these matters, and he swears by the antivenom for redback spider bites.

      I suspect from your experience, you heartily agree, it certainly got you out of trouble after your bite. Thanks for your story, glad it all ended well for you.

  • Margaret Kelly October 5, 2019, 2:11 pm |

    I received a red back bite after putting a shoe on, right away I realized I had been bitten by something. Half an hour later by toe was burning and I was clammy, feeling sick and then two hours after the original bite the clamminess went and the tightness of chest round the heart started with pain up by the leg to my lower back and then down to the other leg. Time to go to the hospital so thank goodness the ED took note of the chest pains and I was admitted. The toxicology doctor I spoke to decide not to go for antivenom and I was put on pain killers, all sorts of them in fact in all my 70 years I have never consumed as many pills as I had in the next 14 hours unfortunately that and fentanyl infusion did not work so the next ED doctor suggested the anti venom for spiders which does or does not work, thank goodness it worked on me and within about 2 – 3 hours I had very little pain left. Thank goodness for a second opinion. Now the day after I am left with a small amount of itching but OK.

    • BobinOz October 8, 2019, 4:55 pm |

      Crikey, sounds like you’ve been through quite an experience over this. I am aware that doctors are often reluctant to administer the antivenom because, as I understand it, it can have adverse effects sometimes.

      Glad to hear it did work for you without any problems, otherwise you could have been in for an uncomfortable time for much longer.

      Hopefully that small amount of itching will disappear quickly as well. Quite a few people have said they were bitten putting shoes on, even so, I suspect it would be a bit overkill to check them every time before putting them on.

      Or would it? 🙂

  • Tara Williams August 3, 2019, 12:24 am |

    My red back encounter was about 4 years ago now. As most I was in the garden pulling out weeds and reached behind a big pot that I leaned my arm on to get some leverage, well that was my mistake, I thought I felt a scratch but nothing was on my arm. I kept pulling out weeds then a few minutes later the pain just came out of nowhere near that same scratch site. I put my head around the pot and one of the biggest, fattest red backs was staring back at me…oh so it wasn’t a scratch! I had completed first aid courses and knew ice was recommended so I pushed passed hubby straight inside and grabbed some frozen peas and googled just to be on the safe side. Pain was subsiding or numbing with the peas so I went back outside asked hubby to check the pot, he came up and said “that’s the biggest redback I’ve seen you’d hate to be bitten by that”! I held up my arm with the peas and his face dropped he started trying to find his phone to ring 000 once I calmed him down I went inside to rest. I also noticed the sticky sweat droplets where I’d been bitten. I had rung the medical hotline they said unless I get sick or pain radiates don’t worry. I was good for an hour or so but then my upper arm and shoulder started really hurting and I felt nauseous. The Hospital was a 2 minute drive away we headed straight up. I was seen straight away and the Dr knew straight away from the sweat bubbles around the site it was a redback but still loved the picture ? he said they hardly give out antivenom as it can make you a lot sicker than the bite and send you into anaphylaxis. He wanted to monitor me for a few hours but since I lived so close he allowed me to go home with some pain killers but not before showing all the dr and nurses what a redback bite looked like. I had 2 days off work as the pain was continuing to run up to my shoulder and the actual bite site was a little sore and itchy for a good few months. We have moved now and gone from red backs to funnel webs! Now that’s one I don’t ever want to be bitten by!

    • BobinOz August 5, 2019, 6:33 pm |

      Yes, I have also heard that there is a great deal of reluctance in applying the antivenin for redback spider bites, because as you say, it can in itself cause problems. For that reason doctors only use it for severe cases, I suspect you would need to be having a really bad reaction to the bite before it would be considered.

      Fortunately, for most people, you included, pain management is all that is needed. Not a nice experience though, but I suspect a walk in the park compared to what might happen if you were to be bitten by a funnel-web.

      Sounds like you’ve moved to the Sydney area, probably, so be careful with those big pots in the garden 🙂

      Glad to hear you survived your redback experience.

  • Cath April 19, 2019, 11:01 am |

    I like you was bitten but had no puncture marks but a red extremely itchy area on my calf that felt like a green ant bite or maybe a wasp but it didnt swell like a wasp bite does. Theres a lot of redback webs around where I sit on an outside chair although I didnt see the spider I know theyre around. omg the itch! Yet nothing showing of a bite mark. The stinging heat in that area around the size of a 50c coin was torment, I scratched & scratched from the itch & then it would throb & ache. I felt sick in the gut, wanting to vomit but didnt. All night in bed the itch & stinging didnt stop hence me believing it must of been a red back after I looked up symptoms, came across your blog & what you described is the same experience as Ive had. How long will the symptoms last? Its driving me mad this painful itch. Ive used stingoes on it yet its still itchy & painful to touch. Thanks for your page about this 🙂

    • BobinOz April 23, 2019, 6:49 pm |

      Yes, it’s true, I did have a red area around the size of a coin, and it felt sticky to touch, but never itchy. My bite never itched at all, but I did get a burning sensation and an intense nail penetration like pain.

      So I’m not sure your bite has come from a redback spider, I think it could have been something else, but I don’t know what. That’s only my guess, for what it’s worth.

      If it’s itching, you could try an antihistamine cream or a tablet, that might help. I hope that pain goes away soon.

  • Janette April 8, 2019, 2:41 pm |

    Late afternoon Friday went to do garden slipped my feet into my gardening shoes spent 2 hrs in garden then an hour later big toe stared burning thought it had been rubbed by shoe but pain got worse by 20 pm I went to my shoe to check and it it was the red back spider so knew the reason . By then my groin was aching so bottled the culprit and went to emergency where they spent 4 hrs trying to get painkillers right which they did by 2am I went home and things were ok till now Monday and I’ve been sweating all day not easing at all . Pain at beginning was 10 out of 10 . I have had shingles and this was equally as bad . My own fault for not checking the shoe but didn’t feel the sting . Got GZp appointment tomorrow

    • BobinOz April 9, 2019, 6:28 pm |

      10 out of 10 sounds pretty painful, I hope you make a full recovery very soon. At least, by the sound of it, you didn’t need antivenin. For what it’s worth, I didn’t feel anything either when I got bitten, I think sometimes that bit can be painless. Then the trouble starts.

      Hope it all goes (or went) well with your GP.

  • Andrea March 29, 2019, 3:46 am |

    Hi, for those of you who were not in excruciating pain from a red back spider bite, consider yourselves lucky!
    I was bitten this week in Queensland, and the spider was in my bed! God knows how it got there, I had washed my sheets and covers that day, it may have snagged itself coming off the line or in the grass…but pest control is coming to do the cabin just in case there is a nest around there.
    Not taking any more chances!
    I was woken at two am from a terrible dream with a pain in my right thigh…firstly I assumed it was a sciatic nerve pain of some kind.
    I rubbed some Zen heat massage oil on it, but soon realised that it must be something else.
    I flipped back the covers and there it was, a female red back spider, in all her glory.
    “Oh great,” I groaned. My brother had been bitten when he was two, and I was four, in the sandpit and it had meant an emergency trip to hospital.
    I scooped the spider into a container, got dressed and took it over to my parents house.
    We decided to wait and see, before driving to the hospital, as being an adult was in my favour. The case of course for pregnant women and children, is way more dangerous and requires immediate medical attention.
    I went to the doctor in the morning, as the pain had really started to kick in. The doctor didn’t really know much about spiders, surprising for a rural doctor, but prescribed antibiotics in case of infection and panadeine forte.
    “I had a bad reaction from codeine cold and flu tablets once,” I told her with concern. I had never taken them since.
    She scoffed and said that these would be fine to take, and that really, there were no other options for the pain, which had by then become increasingly more intense.
    Lesson 1: Always trust your instincts.
    Against my better judgment, I went to the chemist and took two tablets to ease the searing pain.
    Within an hour my hands, feet and eyelids began to swell, I had cold sweats and was shivering and anxious.
    The effects of this lasted for a day or so, with my Mum keeping vigil by my bedside in case of an emergency trip to the hospital half an hour away. It was all I could do to stay warm and ease the bite pain, constantly taking hot baths to keep away the chills.
    Luckily, my parents had recently had enough rainfall to fill the rainwater tanks.
    Four days later, the bite pain is easing and my severe codeine reaction is disappearing.
    It has made me want to never take any pharmaceutical drugs ever again.
    I have a rock hard lump where the spider bit me, but the pain is now easing.
    The codeine reaction overshadowed the spider bite in the end, but I feel for anyone who is bitten, and I advise them to listen to their gut and to their bodies when something happens.
    In hindsight, I should have gone straight to the hospital, when it happened rather than wait and go to the doctor, and will remember this for future reference.
    Doctors and drugs have their place, but only we know how our bodies respond and react to what we put in them.
    Thanks for letting me share.
    Best wishes from Andrea

    • BobinOz April 1, 2019, 3:58 pm |

      Sounds like you have been through a pretty nasty experience Andrea, and mostly because of those codeine tablets. I don’t suspect you will be taking those again in a hurry. Without those tablets I think you might just have got away with it, even though you were in some pain.

      I found a list of possible side-effects for codeine online, it’s enough to scare the pants off of anyone…


      Included in the list is ‘life-threatening allergic reaction’, which is probably about the worst a redback spider can do to you. When you look at everything else on the list, codeine certainly looks scarier than the spider itself.

      Thanks for sharing and hope you make a full recovery soon. Cheers, Bob

  • Reece March 18, 2019, 10:28 pm |

    I got bitten 3 days ago. I know for certainty it was a redback as I saw the little bugga on my shirt sleeve. I initially thought I escaped the bite as I didnt feel anything. It was only 10 minutes later that I noticed 3 little lumps appear centred around tiny little puncture like holes. What followed was an increasing red discolouration about the size of a golf ball followed by a minor ache around the bite area. The red discolouration has since abated somewhat yet sweating around this small area continues, along with numbness in the aformentioned golf ball size area.

    • BobinOz March 19, 2019, 8:10 pm |

      Yes, sounds like a typical redback bite, well, for those of us who have been lucky. Some people who have commented on here have had a much more painful and longer lasting bite experience.

      Like me though, it sounds as though your pain was quite minor, you didn’t have any reaction and the pain went away quite quickly.

      Hopefully the sweating has gone by now, Cheers, Bob

      • Reece March 19, 2019, 9:16 pm |

        The sweating is still there but it certainly feels ok… Touchwood!

        • BobinOz March 20, 2019, 8:27 pm |

          Ha ha, your comment reminded me that earlier in the day I picked up a splinter from a wooden fence, so I went straight to the pin draw and got out. Seriously true.

          So thanks for that, and I do hope your improvements continue.

  • Vince Dove March 9, 2019, 7:00 am |

    Got bitten a week ago, exact same symptoms. Itching like crazy at the moment, Ive had to have repeat prescriptions of beer.

    • BobinOz March 11, 2019, 5:48 pm |

      I do like the sound of your doctor, mine never gives me scripts for grog 🙂 I hope the treatment works, eventually…..

  • Richard February 27, 2019, 4:51 pm |

    I might have been bitten by a red back spider on the foot. A few weeks ago I began experiencing pain on the top of my foot which caused me to slow down my running training – I am a Park Run fan. The pain was not too bad so I decide to run through the pain for a week or two – it may go away. Applied heat gels for pain relief but no improvement. I do have problematic feet not well suited to running so thought I had done yet another injury. Finally decided to pay the doctor a visit – had an xray that showed no breakage. While massaging the foot I located the source of the pain, a small spot and noticed a slight discoloration of the skin with two small puncture marks. Was this a red back spider bite? If so, this might explain why all the treatments including heat gel, anti-inflammatory gel, rest, activity, massage, even ice bath later, haven’t helped. My worry is that the poison has damaged the tissues, muscles etc resulting in longer term damage. Then again, I may not have been bitten by a red back spider after all.

    • BobinOz February 27, 2019, 7:23 pm |

      Well, it doesn’t sound like a redback bite to me, there were no visible signs of any puncture marks when I was bitten. Most people, including myself, have mentioned a round sticky red patch the size of a 20 cent coin as the only evidence at the bite site.

      Two small puncture marks sounds as though it is more likely to have been a snake bite.

      Being as a few weeks have passed, I don’t think whatever bit you is going to cause you too many problems going forward, if you were going to have a serious reaction, you would have had it by now.

      Remember also that sometimes snakebites can be ‘dry’, with no venom injected. Hopefully your foot will be back to normal very soon.

      • Rosemary August 25, 2020, 10:16 pm |

        Hi Bob

        I have been bitten twice. First time was 2 years ago on my shin. I have an infestation of them around the house n around bins. Didn’t actually feel anything bite me, but woke up to intense burning pain, swelling and was unable to walk for 2 days. Recently, as recent as 2 days ago. The damn thing was in my shoe. My foot is like a balloon, the pain is horrible, have muscle cramps and nausea.

        • BobinOz August 26, 2020, 8:38 pm |

          That’s pretty horrible, getting bitten twice. That foot sounds painful, I hope it gets better soon. Good luck, Bob

  • Stuart Robinson January 18, 2019, 2:01 pm |

    Stu in Forster. 13:30pm 18/01/2019
    Just cleaned up around my caravan. Was hosing off around varios bits and pieces when i felt a little sting on the top of my foot, it was one of them gut feelings you get when you know what it was before looking down. Yep there it was looking smug with itself sitting atop my foot, that is until i hosed the bugger off and stomped on it. Aching a little atop the foot and a little in the groin. Not overly concerned at this point, however will drink plenty of beer to be sure.

    • BobinOz January 21, 2019, 8:22 pm |

      No, no, not beer, water! Drink water!

      Mind you, I made the same mistake myself, easily done, and I’m still here to tell the tale. Hope you haven’t been through too much pain and that it all subsides really quickly.


  • Jeremy January 12, 2019, 11:28 pm |

    Got my bite today, around 10:30am. The little dude was hanging off me, then climbed back up and then I tossed it off, saw it running for its life…but I took care of it …with my thong. Only thing I experienced was slight redness and a burning pain. Pain is maybe 2/10. It’s annoying as the house was sprayed the day before of all insects and spiders etc..they must be out running from their homes. Damn.

    • BobinOz January 14, 2019, 5:16 pm |

      Same sort of thing happened when I was bitten as well, my bite wasn’t very painful at all and I was pain-free very quickly. We were both lucky though Jeremy, many others who have reported their bites here have had some quite horrific stories to tell.

      I think having your house sprayed does bring out all the critters as they choke and splutter for fresh air, but they normally don’t last more than 24 hours.

  • Kerrianne Sheridan December 9, 2018, 11:09 am |

    I was bitten on my toe once when staying at a country motel. It found its way into my shoe overnight and when I put my shoes on I felt an intense sting. I went to work and ignored the pain. By the end of the day my toe was swollen and sweating. Day two I was overcome with heavy flu symptoms and then the flesh on my toe began to break down. It became gooey and quite hideous. A few days later my toe nail died and fell off and the toe beside the bitten one became completely numb. Years later I still don’t have full feeling back in that toe and wonder what it was that bit me. My toe nail grew back but is full of ridging.

    • BobinOz December 11, 2018, 8:49 pm |

      From what you say, it doesn’t really sound like a redback spider. When I was bitten, I didn’t really feel the bite, the pain started to build afterwards. I also didn’t get any swelling at all or any breakdown or flesh.

      I did get the sweating though, but to me, it doesn’t sound like a redback bite. I would think it is some kind of spider though, but which one, I don’t know. If anybody reading this does have any kind of idea, we’d love to hear from you.

      What is incredible though Kerrianne, is just how much long lasting pain one small critter can inflict with just a tiny bite. I do hope that pain goes away completely at some point.

  • Craig September 11, 2018, 6:22 pm |

    Your symptoms were very similar to mine, except that I had no pain after the initial very minor sting of the bites. Yes, plural, as in more than one. Probably at least a dozen, perhaps two, in fact! It was around dusk on an early summer evening and I was sitting outside, on one of those cheap plastic garden chairs, chatting and having a few coldies with some friends. I had my feet pushed back under the seat and the backs of my knees were hard up against the underside of the front edge of the seat.

    Throughout the night I felt repeated small bites on the back of my knee and the top of my calf, from what I thought were mosquitoes. I slapped at and scratched at the affected area throughout the night and didn’t give much thought to it until I went inside for a shower and noticed the sweaty white spot in the middle of a big red patch on the back of my calf. I went back outside, turned the chair over and found, right where my leg had been, a pretty extensive web inhabited by a large female Redback and possibly several hundred spiderlings in various stages of maturity.

    I called the local hospital to find out what I should do about it and their advice was, if I had people around me (which I did), to have them keep an eye on me for a few hours. If there were no significant ill-effects, apart from a bit of localised pain, in that time they suggested that there would probably be none at all but, if I had any concerns, to get straight to the Emergency Dept. They were quite right and, in fact, I didn’t even get the pain.

    The only noticeable effect of multiple Redback bites was that I had what turned out to be the best, most refreshing night’s sleep I can remember ever having! The slight swelling and redness went away after a couple of days without incident.

    Redbacks can of course be VERY dangerous to small children and to those few adults who are especially sensitive to the venom but, for the most part, they’re not nearly as big a deal as they’re made out to be.

    • BobinOz September 11, 2018, 7:24 pm |

      There you go, the redback spider bite can be used as a sleep aid; for some reason though, I just don’t think that will catch on 🙂

      Like myself, which I think we can both be grateful for, nothing much happened after you got bitten. One of the links towards the bottom of the article above is about whether some people can be immune to the bite, and I interviewed Professor Julian White, an expert in this field, for the answer.

      In short, it’s no, but what does make a difference, and this was the first one he mentioned, is the size of the spider and its sex. Maybe you got those multiple bites from the baby redbacks and nothing from the mother?

      Other variations, according to the professor, are how much venom was injected, had the spider used up some of his venom reserves on other things that day, and how large/old/healthy was the patient.

      I reckon both you and I had a lot of those factors in our favour when we were bitten.

      Maybe drinking coldies is the best treatment, we both did that, but until hospitals start installing beer fridges in favour of antivenin, I think that’s a long shot.

      Glad to hear you were unharmed though and thanks for posting your story, Bob

  • Aleisha August 22, 2018, 8:13 pm |

    My little 9year old daughter got bit by a red back spider on Friday afternoon, we knew exactly what it was as she seen it and I was there straight after she got a fright as she had a spider on her foot, I would say her pain at the start was not much eg. green ant bite. So I got the ice and put that on the foot. Couldn’t see 2 prong marks or any bite mark.
    Within the next 5-10 minuets the pain shot up her leg, so I took her straight up to hospital. The hospital kept an eye on her for 3 hours, the pain only went up her legs to her groind, if it went in her stomach or she started vomiting they were ready to do the anti venom. The lymph nodes were swollen and inflamed. They only gave panadol and nurofen and the ice kept the pain at ease.
    She was ok at the 3rd hour and we went home. The pain the next day was horrible, she couldn’t walk her legs were numb, her sweats were terrible she would wake up soaking wet, she was very tired, she got hot cold shivers, looked pale. The sweats were only from hips down. This went on for 4 days. It’s day 5 and the spider bite swells up while she walks on it and then she puts it up and ices it and is ok for a while. How long will this last.
    It would be good if photos could be added.

    • BobinOz August 23, 2018, 9:09 pm |

      Sounds awful any it must be horrible to see your little girl suffer like this.

      Difficult to say how long it will last, we’ve had so many stories here from people who have been bitten and every one seems to be a little bit different. Lots of people have mentioned the pain returning repeatedly, but I think, from memory, most people say it’s gone after a couple of weeks.

      Unfortunately for some though, it has lasted longer than that, hopefully that won’t happen to your daughter.

      Sorry you are able to upload photos, but if you want to send them to me by email, which you can get from my Contact page, I can upload them into the comments this end.

      Hope your daughter gets better soon, Bob

  • Patricia Dennis July 3, 2018, 4:56 pm |

    This morning I was in the garden and felt something sting or bite my thumb (underneath on the fleshy part). I reacted and saw briefly a very small black insect which I presumed was an ant. I then went to the shopping centre and on the way my thumb started to feel painful. I then thought I had been bitten by a bee (this has happened to me four times in the past three years) but there was no stinger. After six hours, my thumb was still feeling sore, swollen but not unbearable. We do have red backs in our garden so I then presumed I had been bitten by a baby one. If this is the case, this is the first time in 52 years of living in Australia and also in the 41 years we have lived in our present home. For myself, I’m a great believer in using Dettol for cuts, bites, etc. so I have just dipped my thumb in undiluted Dettol and the soreness has eased a great deal.

    • BobinOz July 5, 2018, 8:53 pm |

      Firstly Patricia, I hope you are feeling better and the pain is easing. From what you say though, I don’t think this was a redback spider, I can’t member anybody mentioning any swelling at all here. Most people report a round red sticky patch about the size of a 20 cent coin.

      So I think it was something else that bit you, and my guess, for what it’s worth, would probably be what your first guess was, an ant. Hopefully the Dettol will sort it out.

  • Ouch June 19, 2018, 12:10 pm |

    Got bitten a week ago today and it still burns like hell. It seemed to get better after a few days but now it’s getting worse again. Is this normal? Went to hospital and they didn’t do much. I’m also pregnant. Not sure how that affects things, but hospital didn’t seem concerned. I just really want this pain to stop. I can barely sleep and can’t stand the feel of the blanket on my skin. Vinegar is only thing that relieves the pain but only while it’s on it.

    • Theresa June 19, 2018, 4:41 pm |

      There may be nothing they can do and the pain should eventually stop but, as you are pregnant, I would see my doctor. Sincerely hope you feel better soon.

      • BobinOz June 19, 2018, 7:31 pm |

        Yes, I think it is common for the pain to seemingly go away for a bit and then come back again. I think one person even said they still get the pain still returning a bit after a year or so. I think this is rare though and for most people the pain goes away completely within three or four.

        Let’s hope you fall into that category. Some people in these comments have suggested taking an over-the-counter antihistamine can help, so that could worth a go.

        Good advice Theresa, but Ouch has been to the hospital, one would have hoped they would have said something if they thought it was a problem.

        • Ouch June 19, 2018, 9:00 pm |

          Thanks, good to know it’s normal I guess! It was always worse at night too but now it seems to be constant all day long. I’ve switched to ice which gives total relief but only when on it. Second I take it off, it comes back. That would be amazing if it helped, hope pharmacist says it’s okay to take while preg. Yeah, hopefully I won’t be in the group that still gets problems after a year since mine hasn’t resolved in 3-4 days 🙁

          • Ouch June 19, 2018, 9:06 pm |

            Should say I also feel fluey, sore muscles, headache, light sensitivity and feverish since the pain got worse again, but that could be something else. Seems weird for systemic envenomation symptoms to have such a delayed onset (6-7 days)?

            • BobinOz June 20, 2018, 5:43 pm |

              Quite a few people have mentioned headaches, various other aches and fluey symptoms, but only a couple of people have mentioned feeling feverish after being bitten; for example John Cliff February 23, 2018, 9:53 pm and Pete December 27, 2017, 6:27 am. You can track them down on the previous comment pages. Of the two, John went to hospital and got antivenom, so if that fever doesn’t go away, I would certainly be seeking medical attention if I were you.

              • Ouch June 20, 2018, 6:59 pm |

                Thanks Bob. Seems the symptoms are related to bite because as pain of bite has decreased (today) so have the symptoms. Feels like my immune system reacting to the venom. Though reducing, pain still bad so not out of woods yet. Going to try antihistamines and see how I go as I don’t think hospital will be particularly helpful.

                • BobinOz June 21, 2018, 7:55 pm |

                  If you do try antihistamines, it would be interesting to hear how that goes.

                  • Ouch June 21, 2018, 9:08 pm |

                    Hi Bob. Strangely, the antihistamines made my pain worse! Really suffering and about ready to chop my hand off today. 9 days since bite. Other symptoms seem to have subsided though.

                    • BobinOz June 22, 2018, 4:18 pm |

                      Gosh, that is strange. Please don’t chop your hand off though, pretty sure that won’t help. 🙂

    • JJ February 20, 2019, 12:35 am |

      Hi, I am also pregnant and got bitten by a red back on the top of my foot, today @ 5pm Perth time and went to the hospital they said to monitor it and gave me some panadol and pain killers if the panadol didn’t work and pain got worse… so filled the script, went home… It’s now 10.30pm and pain has gotten worse, I feel the same way with putting the blanket on. It makes the pain worse and it feels worse than what it did the first two hours. I’ve now got a head ache and feel ill in the tummy. Did this happen to you? How long did the pain last? I’m booked in for the gp tomorrow and I am hoping the pain will settle down so I can sleep but was curious how you went with the pain etc given that you were pregnant in June 2018? Thanks JJ

      • BobinOz February 21, 2019, 8:13 pm |

        It doesn’t look as though Ouch is still around monitoring this conversation, but I do hope you are feeling much better now. Hopefully the GP has helped you through this.

        If you get the chance to update us, that would be great. Cheers, Bob

  • Gemma Garner April 30, 2018, 2:08 pm |

    We have them all over the garden and my kids know how to identify them and stsy out of their way. Whilst camping however my 8 year old had the classic red back on the toilet seat experience. unfortunately for us we did not realise that was what it was. He did not recall a bite, see a spider and there was no real bite mark visible till 15 hours later. The fact tbat we kept discounting it as a redback bite was a real problem as we could have managed his pain much better. He is a pretty tough kid but he was in unbearable agony for about 12 hours and no pain releif helped at all. We ended up in Neurology at Westmead with a child with no reflexes in his legs and unable to walk at all. A terrifying ordeal, do not underestmate the toxicity of the redback venom. This was a over a month ago and he still has itching at the site and some leg cramping. He also had incredibly red swollen eyes at the time which I havent read about elsewhere. Thanks fot the great advice on here. Wish I had done the antihistamine and icepack or the hospital had could have reduced his pain.

    • BobinOz April 30, 2018, 7:29 pm |

      Crikey, that does sound terrifying, must have been a very frightening time. We’ve had a lot of people comment here mentioning a lot of different symptoms, but as you say, no one has talked about red swollen eyes and I don’t think anyone has reported losing the reflexes in their legs and being unable to walk.

      We’ve had a few people saying the soles of their feet or their heels have been painful to walk on, but not that. When I was bitten, I didn’t feel the bite either, so I can understand how easy it is to not know what has happened.

      Glad to hear you got to the bottom of it (no pun intended, honestly) and that your boy is making good progress and I hope he makes an absolutely full recovery very soon.

  • Steve April 2, 2018, 5:46 pm |

    I got bitten on the top of my foot today, at first it was like a pin prick feeling, then on kicking off my thong i noticed a redback fall onto the floor, he was quickly dealt with by the other thong!
    No real pain for 5 minutes, but then a sharp pain at the top of my leg in my groin area which progressively got worse.
    After heading to the hospital and being examined i was given Panadol and anti inflammatories, told to rest it and keep it iced. Doctor reckoned a couple of days and should be ok, and that they only give anti venom if the person is affected severely.
    After a few hours the pain in my groin faded but the bite area continued to burn whenever not being iced.
    Hope the pain goes soon.

    • BobinOz April 2, 2018, 7:29 pm |

      Yes, quite a few people have mentioned that the pain can spread to the groin area, which I imagine is wholly unpleasant. Antivenom is only given in extreme circumstances because it itself can actually cause a bad reaction in some patients.

      So Panadol and anti-inflammatories along with ice is the best course of action, and as mentioned below by Theresa, it may be worth taking an over-the-counter antihistamine as well.

      Hope you get well soon.

    • Steve April 3, 2018, 6:29 pm |

      The next day the burning feeling in the area of the bite subsided but a severe aching in all joints and my shins are now constant and this makes sleeping not possible.

      • BobinOz April 5, 2018, 8:30 pm |

        It always amazes me how such a small critter can inflict so much pain from a tiny bite. Many people have mentioned aching joints, but for most it is gone within a week. Hope yours does too.

  • Collette April 2, 2018, 11:49 am |

    Hi, we were away travelling in our caravan and I had been sitting outside in the sun. I went inside and flopped on the bed and it was then I felt something crawling on my arm. I didn’t initially look bit just moved my are, thinking it was probably an ant or fly. Shortly after I felt a rapidly increasing burning sensation. I lifted my sleeve to reveal the redback. I flicked it off and pushed a pillow on to it. I then grabbed a tissue to wrap around it. The burning was very intense and radiating but I could not see any visible bite mark. I grabbed a cold face washer and placed on the bite. The redness spread up and down from the elbow. After consulting dr Google and given we were some ways from a hospital I decided to sit it out and make the call to head in if things got worse. I didn’t get any sleep due to the burning sensation which remained intense. There was no nausea, shakes or other symptoms. However, the next day I went to a pharmacist who suggested a combined pain relief with Panadol and ibuprofen as well as an antiseptic cream. I took the tablets and applied the cream for the next 24 hours but as the drugs begin to wear off the pain is returning. I hope that things subside soon.

    • Theresa April 2, 2018, 3:20 pm |

      The best over the counter treatment I have heard for these bites,if you have a reaction, is to as soon as possible take some antihistamine pills. The same type of pill you take for hay-fever such as claratyne. Anti-histamines can have quite a miraculous affect on many insect bite skin reactions and a number of people here have taken them for red-back bites and had relief. I am surprised that the pharmacist did not make this suggestion.

      • BobinOz April 2, 2018, 7:25 pm |

        Hi Collette

        Yes, hopefully the pain will go away soon, it usually does, but unfortunately for some people it can hang around. I truly hope you are not one of them. As Theresa says (hi Theresa), it might be worthwhile taking an antihistamine as well as pain relief, applying ice to the wound is also good.

        Theresa, I’m not sure why the pharmacist didn’t suggest antihistamines either, but then again neither did my doctor when I spoke to her after being bitten. Not sure why, but I do know other people have mentioned that antihistamines have helped them in these comments, so it does appear to be worthwhile.

  • Theresa March 30, 2018, 3:15 pm |

    I must have put my hand into a nest of redbacks under a rock while gardening. I suddenly felt two bites, fortunately through my gardening glove, and quickly pulled the affected glove off. I saw at least 4 spiders hanging on to my gloves. Only two managed to bite me. I did not know that they travelled in packs.
    Probably due to the garden gloves and being able to pull the glove off my hand immediately I felt the two bites (hurt like sonofabitch), could not see the bites. Put my hand in iced water which helped a lot. The pain subsided after about 4 hours but I still got phantom pain every now and then for a couple of days.
    I did not know they could kill you or I may have panicked more. I just expected the pain to ease after a while which it did. Most likely the glove stopped some of the venom getting into me. Hope I never get bitten again. There are hundreds of redbacks around this property and I will try to look where I put my hands in future. Bit paranoid these days.

    • BobinOz April 2, 2018, 6:39 pm |

      Potentially, yes, they can kill you, but it is highly unlikely. Always worth taking care to avoid them though, because as you say, it does hurt. Garden gloves are definitely a good idea.

  • Andrey March 12, 2018, 11:24 pm |

    Wow, this is probably the biggest collection of Red Back’s encounters. I will add mine from Adelaide. Today around 3.15pm went out to dump a bag of rubbish in the bin which is based at the end of our backyard. Quickly jumped into my thongs and walked towards then bin. In the middle of my trip felt like a got a weed in the left thong so as usual shook the foot to get rid of it and saw a red back falling out. Smashed it straight away and realized that the weed was a bite. I never had such experience before, started to examine the area on my foot but couldn’t find even where I got bitten. In 10 minutes I started to feel like it was a mosquito bite so decided to call 131126 poison hotline and the lady who picked up the phone asked how do I feel myself. I said OK. She said watch it, apply an ice-pack and take panadol if it will become worse, go to the hospital. So, now it is 11.50pm and freaking painful while i’m writing this. The bite area became red with visible center of the bite. Cannot sleep, pain relief doesn’t work at all. Will see how it will progress tomorrow.

    • BobinOz March 13, 2018, 7:00 pm |

      Sounds like you had a pretty bad bite there, I hope you managed to get some sleep last night. If the pain has got worse since you make that telephone call, maybe you should go into the hospital?

      My bins are also in my backyard, and I often put rubbish out at night and walk to it barefoot. The bins aren’t far from my back door, about 10 metres, and it is concrete, so I’ve never felt the need. Maybe I will now and it won’t be thongs.

      Hope you’re feeling better today, let us know how it ended up if you get the chance.

      • Andrey March 15, 2018, 6:02 pm |

        Just started to get a relief today. Did not sleep that night at all, was sweating like crazy both legs were literally leaking. Went to an ED in the morning and they said that antivenom may be dangerous for me as there is a risk of having an anaphylactic shock. They watched me for a day then let me go home with strong pain relief drugs. Thought that at least I will be able to get a bit of a sleep but Drugs worked only for 1 hour then the pain was coming back and sweating increased. So no sleep at all 2nd night. After not sleeping 2 nights I felt myself very bad and decided to consult with local gp to get some drawsy pills. And he gave me really good antihistamine, don’t remember that name but can check it out that really worked even better than the pain killers. After one pill I was sleeping for 14 hours and sweating is gone for now. Now I feel like I have a flue with weakness in my body and a bit of a headache. GP said that I will recover by Sunday.

        • BobinOz March 16, 2018, 4:14 pm |

          That’s good news, looks like those antihistamines have worked well for you. I do know that the antivenom is only given if it is desperately needed, as there can be some bad reactions. Sounds like you are on the mend, albeit a little slowly, but hopefully you’ll be all clear of it soon.

          • Andrey March 16, 2018, 7:58 pm |

            I hope so! And thanks for the article and all the comments. They really help!

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