Most bites occur in response to body pressure, when a spider is inadvertently trapped against bare skin. Some people are bitten when they roll over a brown recluse in bed. Other bites occur while moving stored items or putting on a piece of clothing that a spider has chosen for its daytime retreat. Brown recluse spiders have very small fangs and cannot bite through clothing.
Brown Recluse Spider Premium Pictures, Photos, & Images - Getty Images
The initial bite is usually painless. Oftentimes the victim is unaware until 3 to 8 hours later when the bite site may become red, swollen, and tender. The majority of brown recluse spider bites remain localized, healing within 3 weeks without serious complication or medical intervention. In other cases, the victim may develop a necrotic lesion, appearing as a dry, sinking bluish patch with irregular edges, a pale center and peripheral redness. Often there is a central blister.
Brown Recluse (Loxosceles reclusa)
As the venom continues to destroy tissue, the wound may expand up to several inches over a period of days or weeks. The necrotic ulcer can persist for several months, leaving a deep scar. Infrequently, bites in the early stages produce systemic reactions accompanied by fever, chills, dizziness, rash or vomiting. Severe reactions to the venom are more common in children, the elderly, and patients in poor health.
Persons bitten by a brown recluse spider should apply ice, elevate the affected area, and seek medical attention immediately. Spider bites are difficult to diagnose, even by physicians. Contrary to popular belief, it is difficult to diagnosis a brown recluse spider bite from the wound alone. Many medical conditions mimic the necrotic-looking sore from a recluse bite, including bacterial and fungal infections, diabetic and pressure ulcers, and gangrene. That bacterium produces painful skin lesions that resemble recluse bites, and can run rampant in close living quarters such as hospitals, camps, barracks, and correctional facilities.
Similar-looking lesions can also be caused by other types of insects and arthropods.
What do brown recluse spiders look like?
Suspected bites occurring outside the native range of the brown recluse spider are particularly unlikely, given that surveys rarely yield recluses in non-native areas. Presumptive bites become even more unlikely if thorough inspection of the premises yields no sign of brown recluse spiders. If possible, anyone bitten by what is thought to be a brown recluse should try to collect the specimen and bring it to a qualified individual for identification.
Even crushed or damaged specimens can usually be identified. Confirmation by an expert will help the physician decide on the appropriate course of treatment. Brown recluse spiders are difficult to eradicate, largely because of their secretive habits. Virtually any dark, undisturbed area can serve as harborage, and many such places occur within buildings.
Because of this and the potential health threat , treatment is best performed by professionals. Likely hiding places include crevices, corners, and wall-floor junctures, especially behind clutter and stored items. Reducing clutter affords fewer places for the spiders to hide and can enhance effectiveness of treatments.
Brown recluse spiders may also live behind walls, and inhabit the voids within concrete block foundations. In infested garages, attics, basements and crawl spaces, the spiders, egg sacs, and distinctive shed skins are often found along joists, sills and rafters, as well as under rolled insulation. In living areas, they sometimes inhabit crevices behind and beneath beds and furniture, closets, clothing, shoes, and stored items. When sorting through boxes or materials, wear long sleeves and gloves to avoid being bitten.
Why You Need Not Fear the Poor, Misunderstood Brown Recluse Spider
Brown recluse spiders also live above suspended ceilings, behind baseboards and woodwork, and within ducts and registers. Outdoors the spiders may be found in barns, sheds, woodpiles, and under anything laying on the ground. They also commonly reside behind shutters. But when a nurse peered inside Torres' ear, that was exactly what the health provider found. The spider probably crawled into Torres' ear while she was sleeping. Thankfully, her guest never bit her.
Once the doctors removed the brown recluse, Torres was fine — but she won't be taking any chances from now on, she said. Ever since the incident earlier this week, she's been sleeping with cotton balls in her ears. If you didn't see and feel the spider bite you, then there's really no way to know if it's a brown recluse bite. In that case, it's important to see a doctor for any boil or red, raised area that gets worse, especially if it feels hot and hard. Though you may be tempted to worry, rest assured that brown recluse bites are very rare.
Follow the recommendation of RICE for first aid and monitor the area you think is a bite. If you notice anything unusual or boils appear, see your doctor. With a little diligence, you will be fine. Sign up for our Health Tip of the Day newsletter, and receive daily tips that will help you live your healthiest life. More in First Aid. A recluse will have six eyes set in three pairs called dyads.
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One dyad will be up front and the others on either side of the head. Most spiders have eight eyes.
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The furry abdomen the larger section will have fine hairs and be a solid color. The legs are one solid, light color and have no spines. How To Treat a Spider Bite. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Sign Up. What are your concerns? Article Sources.
More on this topic for:
Rahmani F, et al. Robinson JR, et al. PLoS One. Vetter, RS. Arachnids submitted as suspected brown recluse spiders Araneae: Sicariidae : Loxosceles spiders are virtually restricted to their known distributions but are perceived to exist throughout the United States.
Journal of Medical Entomology. Vetter RS. Brown Recluses. University of California, Riverside. Continue Reading.