Definition

What is brown recluse spider bite?

Brown recluse spider bite happens when you are bitten by spider. In some cases, it can be life-threatening.

Brown recluse spiders are venomous spiders typically found in the central and southern United States. Though these spiders are poisonous, they rarely bite people.

How common is brown recluse spider bite?

Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of brown recluse spider bite?

You usually don’t feel it when a brown recluse spider bites you. That means you might not even realize you’ve been bitten if you don’t actually see the spider on your skin. If you do feel it, the bite may sting at first.

Symptoms from the venom usually don’t develop for several hours. Then you may feel pain, burning, or itching around the site of the bite. The area may become red. A small white blister can also form at the site.

Additional symptoms you may develop soon after the bite include:

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Intense itching at site of the bite
  • Rash
  • Chills
  • General discomfort
  • Sweating

About 12 to 36 hours after the bite, a characteristic, unique pattern of discoloration can develop. The site of the bite may turn a deep purple or blue color and be surrounded by a whitish ring and a larger red area. There may also be a dark blister or ulcer by the bite. In some cases, the ulcer caused by the bite can persist and grow for weeks.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes brown recluse spider bite?

Brown recluse spiders aren’t aggressive spiders and will only bite if they are trapped against skin. They usually hide during the day and come out at night to hunt for insects.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for brown recluse spider bite?

Please discuss with your doctor for more information.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is brown recluse spider bite diagnosed?

Go to the emergency room or call your doctor immediately if you think a brown recluse has bitten you. If possible, catch the spider in a jar and take it with you. This can help your doctor identify the spider and confirm the diagnosis. Often in the emergency department, a doctor will give you a tetanus booster.

How is brown recluse spider bite treated?

There is no recommended antivenom (medicine that counteracts the poison in the bite, called venom) for brown recluse spiders. Most bites will respond to rest, ice, and elevation.

A number of other treatments and medications have been used in managing skin complications from a bite. Those often used include:

  • Colchicine (Colcrys, Mitagare), a medication used in treatment of gout
  • Corticosteroids, drugs that relieve inflammation
  • Dapsone, an antibiotic used in the treatment of leprosy
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl), an antihistamine
  • Hyperbaric oxygen
  • Nitroglycerin, a heart medication
  • NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen (Advil)
  • Pain relievers

Your doctor may also prescribe antibiotics if the wound from the bite becomes infected.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage brown recluse spider bite?

On your way to the doctor’s office or emergency room, take these first aid steps:

  • Wash the bite wound with soap and water as soon as possible.
  • Elevate the area where the bite occurred.
  • Apply a cool compress or ice pack to the bite to help with swelling and pain — 10 minutes on, then 10 minutes off.

As scary as a brown recluse bite may sound, it usually isn’t dangerous. Most bites will heal on their own without complication.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: October 17, 2017 | Last Modified: October 17, 2017