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Spider Bite: Brown Recluse Spider Bite (cont.)

Should I see a doctor if I've been bitten by a brown recluse?

If you think you or someone you know has been bitten by a brown recluse spider, then the individual should be seen by a doctor that day. If possible, bring the spider in question to the doctor's office. Identification of the spider is very helpful in making the correct diagnosis.

If the patient is unable to be seen by a doctor that day, he or she should seek care at a hospital's emergency department.

How is a brown recluse spider bite diagnosed?

The doctor will try to make the correct diagnosis. It helps if the patient is able to produce the spider in question. That can often be difficult, because most victims don't even realize they have been bitten before developing symptoms.

  • The doctor will ask about the bite event, time elapsed since the bite, other medical problems, medications, and allergies.
  • In general, laboratory tests are not necessary if the symptoms are localized to the area of the bites. If symptoms are more severe or seem to spread, laboratory studies that may be performed include complete blood count, electrolytes, kidney function studies, blood clotting studies, and urinalysis.
  • Although an immunologic (ELISA based) test for brown recluse spider bite has been developed, it is not commercially available or in routine use, therefore currently no specific lab findings can routinely confirm a brown recluse bite. Therefore, a presumptive diagnosis can occur only after a careful history and examination taking into account the likelihood of a bite depending on the part of the country where the person was bitten. This diagnosis can be confirmed if the spider is available and identified as a brown recluse.
Last Reviewed 8/30/2017

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