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First Aid for Brown Recluse Spider Bite

Last updated March 3, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

Brown Recluse Spider Bites can result in itching, fever, chills, and fatigue. Any individual bitten by the spider should seek immediate medical attention.

What is Brown Recluse Spider Bite?

  • The brown recluse spider is a poisonous spider that is native to certain regions of the United States. This spider is half an inch long in size with distinct, dark, violin-shaped marks on its head and body. Also, unlike other spiders that have 4 pairs of eyes, the brown recluse has 3 pairs, which is a distinguishing factor
  • Brown Recluse Spider Bites can result in itching, fever, chills, and fatigue. Any individual bitten by the spider should seek immediate medical attention

What are the Causes of Brown Recluse Spider Bite?

  • The brown recluse spiders generally bite on provocation, which may be unintentional or inadvertent, when they are surprised suddenly or while defending their habitat
  • These spiders release a small amount of poisonous venom into the skin when they bite. The venom is significantly toxic and can cause tissue necrosis

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Brown Recluse Spider Bite?

The signs and symptoms of Brown Recluse Spider Bite depend can vary from one individual to another. It is often seen that the symptoms are not manifested immediately following the spider bite. In general, the signs and symptoms may include:

  • Fever, chills, and sweating
  • Fatigue, nausea
  • Muscle pain and painful joints
  • Visible red to purple area around the bite
  • Itching at the affected site
  • Ulceration around the bite site; sometimes, the ulcerations are extensive

Children, older adults, and those with frail health may have more severe reactions from the toxin.

How is First Aid administered for Brown Recluse Spider Bite?

First Aid tips for Brown Recluse Spider Bites:

  • Call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 (or your local poison control center) for further instructions
  • Clean the bite site with soap and water
  • Put a wet, cold cloth or an ice pack on the bite site
  • Elevate the limb, if bite is on the extremities
  • Limit physical activities
  • Consider taking antihistamine for allergic reactions and aspirin or acetaminophen to relive pain
  • Seek medical advice, before giving any kind of medications to children
  • Seek medical help for all cases of Brown Recluse Spider Bites
  • If safely possible, take the spider (or parts of it) to the healthcare facility for identification

Who should administer First Aid for Brown Recluse Spider Bite?

The individual who is affected, or someone near should administer initial first aid, following which one should seek medical help.

What is the Prognosis of Brown Recluse Spider Bite?

  • The prognosis is dependent on the location of bite, the severity of reaction, and the overall health of the individual. In most cases, the prognosis of Brown Recluse Spider Bite is typically good with appropriate treatment
  • In case of treatment delays or a lack of treatment, in some individuals (children), the condition may result in complications that may include severe skin and tissue necrosis, seizures, and renal failure. Even though deaths are very rare, a few have been reported

How can Brown Recluse Spider Bite be Prevented?

Brown Recluse Spider Bites may be prevented by:

  • Avoiding being outdoors at night in brown recluse spider-infested areas
  • Use pest control in areas where the spiders are found in large numbers
  • Use insect repellent such as DEET
  • Wear clothes that cover the entire body while outdoors in the evenings or at nights
  • Avoid wearing clothes or shoes that have been lying around undisturbed for a while, without first inspecting them thoroughly
  • Do not reach into dark nooks/corners/recesses of the house with your bare hands/foot
  • Do not let clutter accumulate in various parts of the house (such as in the cellar, garage, closets, etc.)

What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?

  • Call 911 (or your local emergency help number), if the condition is serious
  • Administer antihistamines, if the individual has an allergic reaction

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Aug. 27, 2017
Last updated: March 3, 2018