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Brown Recluse Bite: Pictures, Stages, Symptoms & Treatment
Surprisingly, most spiders found in the United States aren't capable of puncturing human skin. Two exceptions to this are the black widow and the brown recluse. Brown recluse spiders, found in the southern U.S. states, can bite and the wounds can lead to several health complications. Spider bites are rare, however. Most reported cases of spider bites turn out to actually be skin infection or a bite from another insect. Bites from brown recluse spiders are usually on the hands, arms, or legs and happen when the spider accidentally bumps into a person and bites to protect itself.
Brown recluse spiders tend to live in warm, dry locations with minimal activity, such as basements, attics, below sinks, or beneath woodpiles and gardening supplies.
It is easy to identify a brown recluse spider: They have a distinct, violin-shaped mark in the center of their backs (they are sometimes called violin spiders.) They are relatively small in size. Male adults can grow up to an inch.
Their bite is a severe medical condition that requires urgent medical attention.
Signs of a Brown Recluse Bite
A bite from a brown recluse spider can cause severe symptoms and lead to considerable damage, including:
- A rash, confusion, and/or mild fever or malaise.
- Pain in the abdomen, pain or stiffness in the joints, headaches, fever, feeling of being unwell, cramping or increased tenseness of muscles, and vomiting.
- Rarely, fatality. Children however are at greater risk because of their small body size.
Stages of a Recluse Spider Bite
Brown recluse spider bites go through three stages, all within the first 24 hours after the bite.
- Stinging and Redness The bite will initially cause a stinging sensation. This is caused by the discharge of spider venom into the blood. The stinging may disappear after a few seconds or it may last for many hours. The sensation is accompanied by redness and inflammation of the site. It may also cause a thickening and puffiness of the affected skin.
- Pain Patients may experience extreme pain during the second stage, typically about eight hours after the bite. The pain may become excruciating over time. It is caused by the absorption of poison by the muscle tissues.
- Blister development and ulceration The final stage appears after approximately 24 hours and is characterized by the formation of a blister at the location of the spider bite. Later, the blister thickens and crusts over leaving an open wound which ultimately develops into a large ulcer. Such ulcers do not heal easily. Left untreated, they can result in secondary infections.
Spider Bite Two Months Later
Treating a Recluse Spider Bite
Treating a Brown Recluse Spider Bite
Follow these self-care guidelines to alleviate symptoms:
- Thoroughly wash the area with cool water and an antiseptic soap.
- If possible, elevate the affected area over the level of the heart.
- Do not engage in any physical activity as it will spread the spider’s toxins through the body.
- Wrap an ice pack with a towel and apply to the bite to relieve swelling and pain. You may also take a pain medication like Ibuprofen. Do not take aspirin as it thins the blood.
- Consult a doctor. If required, the physician may give a tetanus booster shot.
- If possible, bring the culprit spider to the doctor for identification and investigation.
Avoid the below under all circumstances:
- Heat or warm compressors.
- A cut to the affected tissue or use of suction gadgets to remove spider poison
- Hydrocortisone or other steroid creams on the site of the spider bite.
- Electricity to the affected site can result in secondary burns and aggravate the destruction of tissue.
Hospitalization is rarely required. It is however important for patients to go for regular checkups until the wound has completely healed.