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Spider Bite: Brown Recluse Spider Bite (cont.)

Are there home remedies for a brown recluse spider bite?

Home first aid care is simple. These self-care measures should not replace a visit to a doctor or emergency department.

After a spider bite:

  • Apply ice to decrease pain and swelling.
  • Elevate area if possible above the level of the heart.
  • Wash the area thoroughly with cool water and mild soap.
  • Avoid any strenuous activity because this can spread the spider's venom in the skin.
  • Use acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain relief.

Do not perform any of the following techniques:

  • Do not apply any heat to the area. This will accelerate tissue destruction.
  • Do not apply any steroid creams to the area such as hydrocortisone cream.
  • Do not attempt to remove the spider venom with suction devices or cut out the affected tissue.
  • Do not apply electricity to the area. Anecdotal reports of high voltage electrotherapy from common stun guns have never been shown to be effective in any scientific studies. This can also cause secondary burns and deepen tissue destruction.
  • Do not apply a tourniquet to the extremity involved.

What is the treatment for brown recluse spider bites?

After initial evaluation, the doctor may provide the following treatment:

There is no antivenom available in the United States to counteract the poisonous venom of the brown recluse spider. Controversial therapies include steroids and the drug dapsone (Avlosulfon). These are often reserved for people with severe systemic disease (such as certain types of anemia, blood clotting problems, and kidney failure). The therapies have little proven benefit.

The patient will need to follow-up with a doctor because most wounds will need to be checked daily for at least three to four days. Necrotic lesions will need close follow-up. The doctor may carefully remove dead tissue in necrotic areas to reduce the chance of developing secondary bacterial infections.

Last Reviewed 8/30/2017

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