Brown Recluse Spider Bite

Question:

What symptoms did you experience with your brown recluse spider bite? Submit Your Comment

Comment from: Maury, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: July 13

About one year ago I developed nummular eczema after a wasp sting to my neck. About a month into the steroid treatment, I got bit in the back by a brown recluse spider. It did not go totally necrotic, I am assuming due to the steroids, but took months to heal. In May/early June of 2017, the wound area began hurting again and then started forming a new scab. I have rashes on hands, arms, legs and edema in my lower leg under the bite. The bite area is bright red with a white center. I was on prednisone for two months and then given a topical steroid, which gives me a face rash, so I quit using it. I have had blood work done, and all is within normal limits, although my glucose levels are a bit high. I am fatigued, lose concentration, my skin is very thin (steroids, maybe) and I lost my appetite for a few days. I am taking a regimen of echinacea, milk thistle with burdock and red clover, maitake and a host of vitamins and minerals. I clean the wound twice a day with hydrogen peroxide and apply a poultice of echinacea tincture. I am upping fluid intake as well. I am hoping this venom leaves my system. I feel invaded.

Comment from: CloseCall, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: July 08

I was bitten on my heel by a brown recluse spider. Immediately the blister appeared next to the fang marks (one darker than the other), slight swelling, and a strange sensation began. I applied an anti-itch topical cream, iced and elevated my foot for 40 minutes and the swelling and strange sensation subsided. I did not experience any skin breakdown or necrosis. Two days after the bite the blister is gone. Feeling really fortunate.

Comment from: BVav, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: September 15

I kept getting bites on my fingers while working outdoors. They were small and looked like red ant bites but itched like crazy. After a day or two the tissue was deteriorating into a hole. The scab even looked bad. I treated it with cream and bandages. I woke up a few days later and my forearm felt bruised and swollen but I assumed I hit it in my sleep. After two weeks I finally went to CVS Minute Clinic and they gave me antibiotics which created a huge abscess on my arm which was starting to hurt. I went to the emergency room and had to have it lanced, wow, that hurt. They packed the hole with gauze and I went back yesterday to a real doctor who removed packing and gave me 2 kinds of antibiotics. I have a huge hole in my arm and draining it heals fast. Do not wait if you think you were bitten by a brown recluse spider. The lancing was more painful than childbirth and the scar is permanent.

Comment from: Shoshana, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: June 25

I awakened with what looked a two small whiteheads, one on each wrist. Apparently I had been sleeping with my wrists crossed above my head. Within two days the whiteheads were replaced by two, nickel-sized raised pink/red patches. A day after that, during which time both became quite itchy, a larger than quarter-sized crinkly patch appeared. I had, prior to the above, been unpacking boxes which had been in storage for a couple of years. Also, all of a sudden I began seeing numerous spiders which I associated with the opening of boxes which had been in storage. I had seen a news story several year before about brown recluse spider bites. Because the spiders I had noticed were plentiful, I managed to catch one and brought to emergency room where it was identified as a brown recluse. I was put on antibiotics and within four days black scabs fell off. Now, more than a decade later, I still have two small scars, one on the back of each wrist.

Comment from: cctow97, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: February 19

I was bitten by a brown recluse spider several years back, on the front of my right hip at around 6 am. The bite began with itchiness. I initially thought it was because I had mowed grass the day before and maybe 'got into something' that was causing the itch. By 2 pm, I noticed my hip was badly bruised. I didn't remember running into anything and didn't think I had scratched that hard. Then it dawned on me when I had gotten out of the shower that morning there was a dead spider laying on the bath mat that wasn't there before I got in and I figured I'd gotten bit. I left work (which was 50 miles from home) to go have the area checked out at my local emergency room (ER). By 3 pm, I was feverish, had excruciating burning across my hip, was so red from head to toe that it looked like I had baked in the sun for a month straight, and I was swollen around from my belly button to the middle of my back. (Picture wearing half of an inner tube!) I took the spider with me to the ER to show the doctor, but I knew it was a recluse, you could see the fiddle. I was in so much pain in the ER that it hurt to sit or lie down and I was so nauseated that I just wanted to throw up and sleep! By 6 pm, the ER doctors confirmed the spider was a recluse so they gave me a tetanus shot. Because of the systematic reaction I was having, they wanted to admit me right then and there. I told them I was a single mom and I had to go home to make arrangements for my kids. After doing this, I checked into the hospital and was apparently their star attraction. They had never seen/treated anyone who had had such a severe reaction to recluse venom. I had people in and out of my room at all hours. I was hospitalized for a week, during which time I was being monitored for kidney/liver/heart failure. My entire system had bottomed out, when I was previously healthy as a horse! By the end of the week, the bite area was black with three white 'pimples'. I was off work and on home care for almost a month before I was well enough for debridement surgery. They cut seven inches across, three inches wide and all the way down to my hip bone. (What I now call poor man's liposuction!) I had ringing in my ears for a month after the bite, heart palpitations and could hear my heart pounding in my ears for two weeks after getting out of the hospital. I was off work from May through July. I still have a nasty scar from the experience and they told me if I'm ever bitten again, it could kill me next time.

Comment from: Betty, 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: April 24

I was bitten by a brown recluse spider, and I had surgery to debride the area. After 18 months I have developed a sharp pain at the site. I am concerned as to what to do.

Comment from: trujillokaren, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: June 12

At first it itched severely the swelled within 2 hours within 4 hours i had to cut rings off within severe pain, nausea, and vomiting for 4 hours. Venom made my skin open in severe pain shortness of breath rushed to hospital and had a redline from wrist to elbow with hand and arm swelling 3 x its size. I literally passed out from pain 5 and had to have antibiotic. I was in the hospital for 8 days and had iv s for 8 days , wound was sewed open to drain venom. Today 5 months later cannot use my right hand or straighten ring finger and have no insurance to have any therapy, and the visual signs of venom are still present. My joint is very swollen and I have nerve damage.

Comment from: Karen, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: April 07

I have been bitten twice by brown recluse spiders here in Texas. Neither time did I notice the bite as anything usual until tissue necrosis set in. It could have been a mosquito or ant bite for the first few hours – I never had any significant pain. The first time was on my arm, and I swelled up in my face to the point my left eye swelled closed. The swelling was more on the same side of the bite. I was treated at the emergency room for an allergic reaction with a Benadryl injection. The swelling and ill feeling cleared up. Later, I got the classic black sore ringed by red. It never hurt even though multiple layers of skin dried up, decayed, and fell off. I kept it covered and doused with antibiotic ointment. I could easily see the layer of fat underneath the skin when it was at its deepest. It took a while to heal, but left no scar. My skin loss area was never bigger than a 50-cent piece. The next time I got bit was on my nose. My reaction was about the same, but the skin loss was only the size of a nickel. My doctor said I would need a skin graft, but my nose healed with only a minor divot that I don't think is very noticeable. It healed much faster on my nose than it did on my arm. So, in my case the bites were not so bad.

Comment from: Joe, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: September 26

One day I went to sleep like normal. I woke to what felt like a bee sting in my ear.

Comment from: Jillan, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: November 22

I was bitten by a brown recluse spider on my leg in our barn in Missouri. Two hours later, the site developed a bright red/purple circular area with a darkening center. Three days later, it turned to a large area of red, with pus in the center and red streaking running down my leg. I was treated with 10 days of antibiotics and Prednisone. I improved rapidly over the course of a week and was totally healed in 2 weeks. I still have a scar though.

Comment from: Tartar, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: July 29

I got bit by a brown recluse about a month ago. I had terrible pain, redness, swelling, blisters. Then I had a hemolytic anemia reaction to the bite. My urine was a dark cloudy red. My whole body was yellow. I spent over a week in the hospital. They gave me four units of blood, IV antibiotics and steroids. I just had surgery on my arm last Friday. They removed all the dead areas of skin, but it was too deep to put a skin graft on yet. In two weeks to a month, I will get the skin graft put on. Beware of those spiders!

Comment from: cindo45, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: March 29

I was bitten on my thumb *IF YOU ARE BITEN DO NOT TAKE THIS LIGHTLY.* My thumb doubled in size and numerous puss filled boils began popping up. I went to see a surgeon and he performed surgery the next morning. He sent me home with the thought that I could potentially lose my thumb because I had waited too long to see him and the venom had set in the bone. I have arthritis and my thumbs are a little crooked. HOWEVER, the thumb that was bitten now looks like the numeral seven. It actually bends that far over to the left now. The doctor said the spider probably had bitten me in or around the joint forcing a break in the mid joint. I didn't mention how painful this whole thing was too from the bite to post surgery. This has been a nightmare.

Comment from: Stephanie, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: September 11

I was bitten by a brown recluse a week ago. It started with a big red circle that itched like crazy, then started to sting and puff up. By morning it was bruised in the center and getting quite painful. I went to my doctor and she prescribed Keflex and prednisone. I read a lot about home remedies as well and started using activated carbon from the fish department at Walmart). I crushed it and added just enough water to make a paste. The Internet said to bandage the wound with this and change several times a day. I also read to take 50 mg of Benadryl four times a day. This makes me feel like a zombie but is has improved the bite drastically! I went back to the doctor on Friday for her to check it and she was amazed at how much better it looked. I go back Thursday, she said she to keep doing what I'm doing because it works! Just wanted to let everyone know about what has helped me, hoping it may help someone else. Thanks.

Published: August 10

I was bitten by a recluse spider about two days ago. It just started out as a red bump like a mosquito bite, then it started to swell and looked like a boil. Then I started getting the fevers, chills, and hot painful red areas around the bite. I went to the doctor and got an antibiotic. This is my third bite. I also live in Michigan and have had this issue.

Comment from: Cheryl, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: August 10

The bite started out as a painful small red bump with a small black dot in the middle. It kept getting bigger and color changed from red to purple to black with the center of it growing into a blister. My doctor informed me that if I had waited another 24 hours for treatment, there would have been some bone loss because the venom was sitting on top of my leg bone. I was bitten while sleeping and was not aware of the bite cause until after surgery three weeks later. I had to pack the wound three times a day after three hours of surgery plus endure whirlpool physical therapy for six months until it healed. I took a wide range of antibiotics and the final cost of treatment was about $13k. Who knew the damage a small spider could cause?

Comment from: Memphis mom, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: July 05

I was bitten on my wrist by a brown recluse. Eight hours later my hand was three times its normal size went to my plastic surgeon and he explained that I was going to have a skin graft. I went home and my friend told me her grandmother's home remedy, which was to soak this in Epsom salt as hot has I could make it. I did this for 24 hours almost every two to three hours then soaked gaze in the salt water and applied to effected area. The next day bite started to drain and swelling subsided and look healed, On the 3rd day went back to plastic surgeon, he laughed and wanted to know what I had been doing, after I explained, he stated I was going to put him out of business. This truly works, I was bitten a second time repeated process same results. Good Luck!

Comment from: Scotty, 45-54 Male (Caregiver) Published: May 30

My neighbor was bitten by a brown recluse in Northern IL, where they are rather rare, but do exist. His skin did exactly what others report. It became black and a huge open wound followed. This led to nerve damage so severe that he refuses to drive. He said his nerve problems cause him to either slam the brakes or floor the gas, sometimes hitting both pedals at once. He has these rapid, painful jerking involuntary motions as well. Be wary of all spiders. Consider them all dangerous.

Published: May 30

I was bitten by a BRS in my sleep on the back of my head. When I woke I knew right away something had bit me because I could feel I little bump on the back of my head. The next morning I woke to a bump the size of a half of apple on my head. I showed my neighbor who knew right away what it was. It is slowly healing but it has been six months and it still itches like crazy no matter what I put on it. I live in MI and they say it's too cold up here for them but it was for sure a BRS bite. The pain has been pretty bad and it keeps leaking this clear fluid. I think more people need to know about this spider so they can look out for it and know what to do if bitten. I never heard of them til I was bitten.

Comment from: mulewoman, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: May 11

So far I've been lucky on the bite site--no big gaping hole. it does have a pus pocket in the middle and really reddish color and swollen part is hard as a rock and hurts. My whole body itches on the inside and outside and I've got hives.

Comment from: Sandra, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: April 10

I was bitten almost three months ago on my tailbone. The bite happened while I was sleeping and I felt no pain. About a week after I was bitten, I noticed a dented, very dark, almost black, wound and it hurt terribly. I am disabled and was scheduled to see my pain management specialist in about a week so I thought I would ask her to look at it. She told me I was bit by a venomous spider, a black widow or a brown recluse and that it would start to heal on its own. My doctor said because the bite was not pustuous and looked to be healing. She also said for me to keep antibiotic cream on it and if it worsened, go to the ER. I was surprised she didn't give me antibiotics or other treatment but she said I was lucky the wound had not blistered or ever oozed with pus. It's been about three months now, and the bite wound is not black anymore but it is still flaky and itchy. I continue to put cream on it to help with the healing. Although I know I will always have a nasty scar, I have researched this type of spider bite and feel very lucky mine did not grow to the size of some I've seen and that it did not pus up and blister like the very severe ones I've seen in pictures. I also heard hydrogen peroxide helps so I'm going to start using that to hopefully help with the healing.

Comment from: outbacker, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: March 27

I was bitten last Friday. I have one bite on my left palm and one on the right pinky. I have extreme swelling, purple skin and throbbing pain in both hands. I was prescribed antibiotics, which are working.

Comment from: Sarah, Female (Patient) Published: February 15

I noticed a little red blister with two fang marks on my index finger 6 days ago. The skin is now being eaten away downwardly and outwardly and about the size of a dime. You can still see the fang marks perfectly in the deepest areas burned down. It's hot to the touch, and the skin surrounding is dark red. Not that painful, but it is ugly!

Comment from: Toothfairy, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: September 12

I was bitten by a brown recluse spider. It was in the bed sheets. I was ill throughout the night and went to the ER early the next morning. I was admitted later that day and on Monday afternoon, the wound care doctor officially confirmed a brown recluse bite. I spent 12 days in the hospital. I developed toxic shock syndrome and renal failure, having to receive blood transfusions. I developed fluid around my lungs which caused labored breathing. My wound care doctor informed me that about 1% of people bitten by the Brown Recluse have the reaction that I had. I almost did not survive the bite. I was bitten under my left shoulder blade. A plastic surgeon closed the wound because it would not heal after 3 months. Two weeks after he removed the staples, the wound opened again. The wound finally healed after 6 months, leaving a deep, sunken in scar which is tender.

Published: September 06

I was bitten and thought it was a boil, but five days later ended in hospital had to have surgery to cut a hole out of my leg. I am now on five antibiotics including an IV at home. This is a very nasty bit and I have a long recovery with possible skin graph needed. Watch where you sit and what you touch. The spider was on my golf cart seat and I sat on it. BEWARE!

Comment from: rebelchick7112003, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: June 20

I was bitten by a brown recluse about a year ago, and when it bit me I was in my living room. It stung really badly, but I just ignored it. The next day it was swollen and looked like a pimple that needed to be popped. It hurt but I don't think my bite was very severe. My mother is a doctor and she told me to put this medicine on it, because she thought it was a boil. It got worse and I ended up going to the doctor because I literally had a hole the size of a dime on my waist. It hurt really badly, but it was nothing I couldn't handle. I did not have insurance at the time so the doctor couldn't test the infection to see exactly what it was. But between him and my mother they both said recluse bite. It took weeks to heal, and I have a scar a half inch on my belly. Yes I was given antibiotics and pain medicine throughout this experience.

Comment from: 55-64 Female Published: June 15

I was bitten by a brown recluse spider one morning when I slipped my arm down into my coat sleeve. The bite felt like a prick of a small needle. I went on to work and during the day, the bite was turning red and itching so after an eight hour work day, I stopped at the doctor's office to see what I should do for it. I was given a shot to counteract the venom but the next morning, I woke up and my face was swollen so I didn't know if it was the bite or the shot that did that. The bite spot got larger and the skin around the red circle began to turn a bluish color. I went back to doctor and got antibiotics and still the bite was not getting better. The spot began to rot out and I went back to the doctor and was instructed to wash the hole with soap and scrub it out with a washrag. After that, I was to pour peroxide in the hole and let it boil it out and then rinse with water. The peroxide really burns when it hits raw flesh. The doctor also said to leave the wound open to the air and not put anything on the hole. After I started using it the wound got better and sealed off. I have a scar but with the scar is kind of puckered up and is not as big as it was when the hole was in my arm. I would not want to see anyone go through the pain of a bite. Sometimes it felt like it was throbbing pain and I also felt numbness some of the time. The best thing for a brown recluse bite is to get to a doctor as soon as possible when you get bit. The doctor told me that if I had come within the first 4 to 6 hours, he could have gave me some shots and stopped the venom from spreading and causing as large a hole as it did.

Comment from: T F G, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: May 24

I'm surprised to read that the brown recluse is not prevalent in Southern California as they seem to have proliferated in the Inland Empire over the last few years. I am suffering from a recluse bite currently and having read about them was still caught off guard by the extreme pain at the site that has been continuous. I was trimming a bush in a dark corner when 4-5 spiders went scurrying, thinking them to be common garden spiders I kept working and at one point pressed against it to cut a higher branch. The bite was immediate and quickly painful ...I thought I had been stung! I knew to take Benadryl but was afraid of getting 'too sleepy' as I had a lot of work to do. By the next day the pain was so intense I knew I was in trouble and a hole the size of a pea had opened on my chest. The surrounding flesh was hard like a boil and deep red. I went to the doctor who put me on antibiotics I had covered the area with antibiotic cream, but kept it breathable. The constant dressing changes and antibiotics seemed to arrest progression. This has been one of the most painful experiences of my life. The site continues to shrink, weeping and actually losing thick pus-like material that I shower off or carefully dab with a clean antibiotic wipe. I feel fortunate that it is doing so well, hearing other accounts and seeing photos of how bad it can get. My advice is to get to a doctor sooner when it doesn't feel right and you suspect something is out of the ordinary.

Comment from: MistyBlue, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: May 24

I got bitten Saturday on a nature walk with my children. On Sunday and Monday I was nauseated and in severe pain. It is on my right buttock and the pain is running from my lower back all the way down my hip and thigh.

Comment from: survivor, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: May 09

One morning I noticed a small itchy "pimple" and thought nothing of it. I was out of town and the next morning it had turned pea-sized and black. The next day I was to return back to Houston and planned to see a dermatologist. The morning of my flight I could hardly walk and my whole ankle was purple and swollen. In Houston I went to the ER and was admitted for incision and debridement. I next had a second surgery to remove old surgical hardware, more debridement and bone scrapings. I had plastic surgery to fill the golf ball sized hole and was put on 8 weeks of intravenous antibiotics. Seven months later the wound is well on its way to healing. This was a living nightmare and the worst pain I have ever felt.

Comment from: Dolce, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: May 02

I didn't realize that I had been bitten by a spider until my calf started itching. When I looked down I saw a red circle with a hard inner circle with raised white spots in the shape of a C. It was Easter Sunday and I couldn't get to my doctor. I didn't think it was serious but it was starting to hurt and the red was spreading. When I did get in to my doctor she told me that it was a brown recluse spider bite. I was given two shots of a strong antibiotic that day and two the next. I am also on oral antibiotics. It's the weekend again but I will definitely run to the Emergency Room if it gets any worse! So far I am holding my own. My advice is DON'T WAIT to get help.

Comment from: Gege123, 25-34 Female (Caregiver) Published: May 02

My niece was bitten 18 mos. ago on her leg but no doctors would listen when she stated it was spider bite. It took them four weeks to realize how bad she was and treated her for BRS bite. She went through the wound care treatments every day to debride the area. She was 28 and in a nursing home, the skin, fat and muscle of her legs deteriorated. She couldn't walk and just this Easter she finally came home with routine maintenance to be done doctor visits. I just got a call that she had a stroke (hemorrhage in her brain) which has also caused her to have serious heart attack. I wonder if this is some of side effects of BRS or of meds she's on but I pray for her to be okay someday.

Comment from: terrycihak, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: February 24

I have a brown recluse spider bite on my left breast which looks like brown in the middle and red on the outside. I also have one on the back of my head which is way looking worse according to my ex-husband who says that it is way big and real nasty looking and swollen.

Comment from: 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: November 08

I was bit on the middle finger of my left hand; I didn't notice it at first. But the following morning it started to itch and by the end of the day the pain was extreme. Went to hospital that night and got out two weeks later. Still have finger after four surgeries, hope I keep it. What a nasty bite. If it happens to you get to the hospital as soon as you can!

Published: May 26

A gradually building itch which eventually grew annoying enough to prompt a look. Two fang marks in a hard white circle surrounded by redness. Then I was knocked into a silly delirious state and having hallucinations which I believed to be real. The next morning I was still silly and didn't even think to look at my foot, just went to work. Around 10 am. I got some rock salt and tried pouring water over salt on the bite. I soon realized the skin on top of my foot was without feeling and dead. From there on it was textbook. Necrosis, infection, overwhelmed lymph and immune system, fevers, weight loss. I had to go to doctor and have the top of my foot skinned and go through wound care.

Comment from: paulette, 55-64 Female Published: May 16

I had a recluse bite 35 years ago on my right arm. I had to have treatment for the wounded area where the tissue came off, about the size of a dollar bill. I have since realized how lucky I was, it could have been worse.

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Medically reviewed by Avrom Simon, MD; Board Certified Preventative Medicine with Subspecialty in Occupational Medicine

REFERENCE:

Vetter R.S. and Bush S.P.. 2002 reports of presumptive brown recluse spider spider bites reinforce improbable diagnosis in regions of North America where the spider is endemic. Clinical infectious Disease 35:442-445

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