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Brown Recluse Spider Bite

Question:

What was the treatment for your brown recluse spider bite? Submit Your Comment

Comment from: Sue, 55-64 Female (Caregiver) Published: July 31

My husband has had two brown recluse spider bites now. We treated it with a poultice of flax seed. It drew the poison out.

Comment from: C. Haskell, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: July 26

After realizing that it was not a typical spider bite due to the swelling as well as a blister that formed, and a great deal of pain, I went to Urgent care, where doctor gave me IV to hydrate and added antibiotics. I had an ultrasound to verify there were no clots. I am still being treated, and my entire arm is now very puffy, swollen, and very painful. I will return to the doctor today. The doctor told me to place warm compress over the area. Odd that all of the information I see here says to use cold compress.

Comment from: Amanda, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: July 10

I got a brown recluse spider bite on my thigh. I soaked my legs in hot water with peroxide then I went and lay on my side for about 2 or 3 hours. I pushed up where it was pink because by then it was close to my knee as it had spread, but I pushed it all up to where the bite was. It ended up forming a blister. I got it to open and tissue came out. Then I kept putting Neosporin and a bandage over it till it healed! Don't get me wrong, it hurt terribly to get up and walk but I took care of it!

Comment from: architect, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: October 16

I am a 71 year old architect from Louisiana. I was bitten on my lower leg by a brown recluse spider one evening as I walked outside in the grass. I don't know if the spider was in my robe or just jumped up to my leg from the ground. It felt like a bad mosquito bite and itched. The next day the bite area was red and swollen and got progressively worse each day. A small raw core developed surrounded by a hard swollen ring. I self-treated it for several days and then decided to seek professional help. My family physician knew exactly what it was and immediately deadened the area and lanced the wound to drain the pus and venom. He put me on a powerful antibiotic and the wound is healing very well, and after two weeks I finally have a scab that appears to be closing in the sore. As it has healed, I have lost some dead skin. I am thankful to have cleared this up because the culture results showed that I have MRSA infection in the wound. That to me was more concerning than the spider bite.

Comment from: shadow, 35-44 (Patient) Published: June 30

I live in the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania. I have known about brown recluse spiders for years. I was bit on a Thursday in June 2017, scratched an itch through my pants' leg, followed by inflammation and by the evening there was a 3 to 4 inch puffy red oval around the bite. There were very distinct rings, 2 or 3, within the oval, and because we live in a state with high incidence of Lyme disease, that's what my husband assumed it was. He said I should get it checked out immediately so I went to an urgent care center that night. The doctor at the urgent care center said it was Lyme, and I started taking doxycycline and followed up with my family doctor 4 days later. I related the whole history, how the bite area became a lesion, hot and painful, and I felt achy and sick on Friday. He also saw the bite area but agreed it was Lyme, I even said to him, 'do you think it could be a brown recluse bite?' and he said no. But, he said he'd never seen a Lyme bullseye rash like this ever before, and he's been practicing for probably 30 years. Then I got my results back from the blood test taken at the urgent care center (6 days after the bite) and it was negative for Lyme. I asked this question of the woman giving me the results (which I asked all along by the way), if there was anything else that could cause a bullseye rash. She said yes, spider bites. Ten minutes of research showed that the timeline of my symptoms, the symptoms themselves, and the appearance of the bite area all exactly matched the brown recluse bite. I think we were all (me too!) blinded by our fear of Lyme disease. Just wanted to share this so others may pause and consider other alternatives when they get the bullseye rash.

Comment from: SpiderWoman, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: June 13

I am a 35 year old healthy female. I was bitten by a brown recluse spider in Sacramento 6 years ago while sleeping outside. I didn't know what had happened. I woke up with a rash on my hand and thought it was dermatitis. After three months it turned into a huge volcano and kept discharging pus. It would never heal. So, I went to the dermatologist who did a biopsy and cauterized the wound. He tested it for cancer; of course it came back negative. After a three year battle I thought it had healed and I was left with a giant burn on my left thumb from the necrosis. Then after joining the military, I learned that the bone was destroyed and further testing confirmed my worst nightmare; brown recluse bite and septic arthritis. I have no joint left in my thumb and I'm going to undergo surgery to either replace the joint or fuse the bone.

Comment from: TwiceBittenOnceShy, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: May 23

In 1990, I was bitten on my arm by a brown recluse spider. My grandmother was dying and I didn't pay attention to the bite for about a week or so. When I noticed it, it was a quarter sized black sore with purple skin out from the center and that skin had cracks in it. Before it got that bad, I tried to pull the scab off, and it wouldn't come off, even with tweezers. When I showed my Mom, she freaked out and took me to a clinic. The doctor immediately knew it was a recluse bite. He gave me a local and cut about two inches of dead tissue. Fast forward to last week, guess what! I have been bitten by a stupid brown recluse again! This time it's on my left arm. I had to wait for my paycheck (one of the many perks of being poor). I went to the emergency room (ER) last night. The wound is smaller than a dime, but it has the slightly sunken necrotic center. The doctor wasn't really surprised (I live in Texas and they aren't uncommon here). I got my prescriptions today. The topical cream was 177 dollars! (Thank you USD 5000 deductible insurance.) I'm glad I was paying attention this time and I will squish any spider I even see again (unless it's a daddy longlegs). The strange thing is, years ago, my Mom was bitten by a recluse. The bite was smaller and she was able to pull the scab off and put hydrogen peroxide on it and within a week, it was just a small scar, never needed to go to the doctor. My dad had the same experience. I guess it affects everyone differently and I'm just lucky this way. The ER visit was USD 350, but I know how dangerous these bites are.

Comment from: dpresley58, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: April 20

As already stated on the site, the brown recluse spider inserts a small sac of venom that causes the skin around it to die, further spreading the venom. Mine was suctioned out with a syringe made for the purpose and gently scrubbed clean with a very soft toothbrush soaked in alcohol. Then it was cleaned twice a day with peroxide and the brush, followed by bandaging with antibiotic ointment. The follow-through is just as important as the initial treatment. Within a few days, the area is noticeably drier and less tender. You can count on a scar, so the earlier the treatment, the better.

Comment from: TomG, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: November 29

I had what looked like a shingle on my lower back, just above my belt line. I treated it with Neosporin and a Band-Aid. On the 3rd day I did go to my doctor, and at this time it was so painful, like having an exposed nerve with scratching fingernails across it, wow, that was bad! He immediately called it a brown recluse bite. I removed my shirt and lay down and he cut away all dead skin, which was very painful. When he finished that he washed it with something that burned terribly, could have been alcohol. Then he wrote a prescription for prednisone and sulfamethoxazole. For the next 2 weeks I ate those pills, and it has cleared up. It itches right now, as today is the end of those 2 weeks. After his surgery and removal of that dead skin, I walked out of his office with no pain. It looks great now, and made me very happy!

Comment from: Pakrgirl, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: May 11

On 5-27-16 while on vacation in Arizona, I woke up with a red rash, warm to the touch, around my lower leg. On one side was a slightly darker red spot a lot warmer. Our hostess is a registered nurse so I showed her. She said it looked like cellulitis and to keep an eye on it. My leg swelled like a balloon. No pain though; until the evening of the 29th. It was so painful and swollen I could not sleep. In the morning we went to the emergency room. I have peripheral artery disease (PAD) and had just flown from Wisconsin. So they checked for blood clot. None was detected. They gave me two strong antibiotics and sent me home instructing me to elevate my leg to keep swelling down. Sunday flying home was excruciating. Sunday night I notice a dime size blueish purple spot. Monday, bigger and painful, and I had fever. Tuesday I followed up with the doctor, who sent me straight to hospital. The doctor there was from the south. He said it was brown recluse spider bite and treated it as such. I had intravenous IV for 2 1/2 days in hospital and they cut out the dead tissue. Will go to clinic on Monday.

Comment from: Tootsie, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: December 30

I was bitten by a brown recluse spider on my upper left thigh, and the pain was unbearable. I went to the emergency room, where they did an ultra sound and sent me home with two weeks of antibiotics. By the second week the fever and pain had me out of my mind, so I went to a health clinic and as soon as the doctor had seen it, he had sent me for surgery. I cannot tell you the pain I endured, they cut my leg open 6 to 7 inches to drain. It has been 8 weeks and I still feel the burning.

Comment from: clide, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: December 11

I was working in my shed in the evening. The next morning, I noticed a red pimple on my leg just above the knee. I didn't think much about it until later that day, I noticed that it had gotten bigger to about the size of a dime. I squeezed some gobs of pus out of it and noticed it was turning blackish and had a red ring around it with pain extending about 2 inches around it. I went to the walk-in clinic and the physician's assistant didn't seem too concerned and gave me some antibiotic Keflex and Tylenol-3. A couple days later it was about the size of a 50 cent piece. This time I went to the emergency room. Pretty much the same reaction; said to take some antibiotic (Bactrim) and pain killers. I happened to have an appointment with my orthopedist about another matter when I casually mentioned that something had bitten me. He took one look and immediately sent me to a colleague that very hour. When I arrived there the second doctor said, 'I need to cut that out now'. I was a little surprised because I didn't think it was that serious. He scheduled me for surgery that afternoon and admitted me into the hospital and put me on IV antibiotics. He did surgery about an hour later. I had two bites, he took about a golf ball sized chunk of flesh out of one and a ping pong size out of the other. I go in tomorrow to have him repack the holes left by the bites. Brown recluse spider bites are nothing to be taken lightly.

Comment from: rs439, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: July 17

I first noticed a stinging on my upper abdomen on Friday morning. It appeared like a boil or a pimple. By Monday it had gotten quite large and in the shape of a volcano, with a tiny dead area in the center with some redness and lots of pain around it. I saw my doctor on Monday and received a sulfamethoxazole based antibiotic. Today is day 6. A larger toughness is felt around the brown recluse spider bite. The redness is still present but the center seems to be healing. I know a product called Talstar that kills all spiders like wild, and believe me I have sprayed my home very well inside and out.

Comment from: TXmike, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: June 29

I was painting a shutter on front of house Saturday morning last week. I had a ladder straddling a bush, and as I climbed down I was bitten in inner thigh. I tried to knock the spider to walk way but missed, but I saw it was a brown recluse. I ran in to the house and tried to squeeze venom out as I washed it 3 times. I went and put Benadryl gel on the wound. The bite burned like crazy. The pain lessened over the day, but I did feel very nauseous and achy. Sunday, it felt tender but only looked like a mosquito bite, I still felt achy and dizzy. I ran around with kids all day and walked 4 miles that night. Monday I woke up with the area bright red (about 3 inch diameter), and pain and swelling in an 8 inch diameter area. I went to the emergency room and was given a strong oral antibiotic and Neosporin to apply. Red area doubled in size by Tuesday morning, and became larger Wednesday morning. I noticed a decrease Wednesday night; guess the antibiotic was working. By Thursday night, it was down to under an inch in diameter and swelling has gone down. I still have 6 more days of antibiotics, but I feel way better.

Comment from: bearsblack888, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: March 31

I was bit by a brown recluse spider in August 2014. Within 6 hours, I was running a fever of 104, and I had a bite the size of a quarter on my neck. I was admitted to the hospital and cared for by an infectious disease doctor. I had an IV in each arm and received antibiotics and vitamin therapy. I am still struggling with health problems today. Will I be sick the rest of my life!

Comment from: sk, 55-64 Female Published: August 03

I am pretty sure I have a brown recluse bite. It's been 3 weeks, the black dead skin I actually pulled off 3 times. The last time I took a very clean sharp little pair of scissors and clipped the piece of tissue that was hanging on. It was black with a red ring around it. Looked like a skin cancer. When I first was bit, it felt like something was across my nose, like I kept thinking a hair was there, then I had numbing like Novocain was wearing off on the side of my face and upper lip. My teeth felt like they were all falling out on that side next to my nose bad headache. Did not know it was a bite until started checking. Was leaving for vacation, kept it clean with Neosporin, and now trying mederma to fill in the skin loss. It is still not healed all that well after 3 weeks. It sucks because it is on my nose. But luckily it has not gotten bigger than the size of a pencil head. I think now that it has quite turning black it will hopefully start to heal. It seems to be starting. I know it is going to leave a scar. I don't think I can afford skin grafts.

Comment from: janice m., 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: September 18

I started to have flu-like symptoms that gradually worsened. After a week of flu-like symptoms I decided to go to an emergency room. While showering before I left, I found two holes on my scalp the size of a pencil. At the ER, they requested that I try to find a spider. I went home and found a spider in the bathroom window. It was a brown recluse, and I was treated. My head, neck and arm were very swollen and had turned very red. It took about one month for the symptoms to go away.

Comment from: b4ucuhear, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: July 10

I was in the jungle in Central America and I believe I was bitten while I was sleeping - maybe disturbed it somehow. I noticed what looked like an unusual blister on the bottom of my foot, but didn't feel much pain or itching. The site started to turn colors and swell. The swelling continued up my leg. I went to a doctor who diagnosed it as a bite from a brown recluse spider. He gave me antibiotics and was going to send me directly to the hospital until he knew I was to catch a plane the next morning. He told me to go directly to the nearest hospital emergency as soon as I landed. I did so and the doctors also diagnosed is as a BRS bite. They immediately operated and cut out the dead tissue that had already formed on the bottom of my foot and put me on antibiotics. It all worked and I consider myself very fortunate that it wasn't much worse as some of the other poor souls have described here.

Comment from: SbethC, 45-54 Published: November 20

I was submitted to the hospital for a week for IV antibiotics.

Comment from: Mammaduck, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: July 31

My mother was bitten and tried to treat it with antibiotics for 10 days. She ended up with a gaping hole in her leg that was continuing to grow. A friend had suggested a low voltage tazer gun as she had seen first-hand that it worked. We found a doctor that sold them for brown recluse bites and used it. The bite cleared up within two days and she hasn't had problems with it since.

Comment from: Lady Lepus, 55-64 Female Published: July 31

I applied ice packs for 2 days. This relieved the horrible itching/burning. I took Tylenol the first day only, with no antihistamine or other medication. My Tetanus was up to date.

Comment from: Willy, 19-24 Male (Patient) Published: May 01

I was bitten by a brown recluse twice in one night. Four days passed and the centers turned purple. The centers were about half the size of a pencil eraser, and caused no pain whatsoever. Two more days passed and the purple began to fade.

Comment from: HDcRaZyMaN, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: April 02

I was out fishing at night in a small boat when I saw a spider. I swiped it off me and into the water. About an hour later, it developed a lot of pus. The next day, I awake to find and infection on my hand all the way to my shoulder. My skin started eating away like an ulcer. I went to the ER and was rushed to surgery. The surgeons cut a three-inch-wide wound all the way down to the bone. The pain was unbearable. I was on heavy antibiotics and morphine every two hours.

Comment from: bhiiggy, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: January 30

My recluse bite started with a blood like blister and within hour it went from the size of a pen point to the size of half dollar! My hand was so painfully swollen, I could not use it. I went to hospital and they kept me the weekend and gave me antibiotics to help with swelling. Monday morning they escorted me to a wound specialist and immediately cleaned the wound and then put me in hyperbaric treatments. Ii had five days of two hour treatments plus the antibiotics. My treatments were able to restore vital tissue and blood cells to the impacted area.

Comment from: Female (Patient) Published: November 16

I am a 47 year old female, and today I arrived home from my 8 day stay at the hospital due to a brown recluse bite. I did not know what bit me. I originally thought it was a mosquito but then it began swelling. By the second day the area became inflamed and doubled in size. I went to ER and was sent home with oral antibiotics and told it would get better. The next day it looked like a raised tumor with streaks of redness running down my left buttocks. I phoned the doctor that treated me at the ER and they said to give the antibiotic a chance to work, and to ice it down. I began to feel fatigued and felt like I was dragging my left leg around. I continued to go to work and by Sunday, Nov.6th my wound opened in the center and turned black. Monday the 7th I went to a different hospital and was admitted and immediately started on serious IV antibiotics. I had surgery on Tuesday the 8th and the surgeon removed a significant amount of necrotic tissue and drained the wound. I now have a pretty large size open wound that will require daily wound cleaning and dressing. I will be out of work for at least three weeks or so until the wound closes up since it heals from the inside out. This was a horrible experience and I want others to know if they get a bite that does not start to heal, don't wait!!! Go to the hospital and insist on being seen by someone who is familiar with spider bites. I give many thanks to my surgeon and the infectious disease doctor who took great care of me and certainly educated me on these nasty spiders.

Comment from: concernedmom, 25-34 Female (Caregiver) Published: November 15

My daughter was just bitten on Thursday at a home she was cleaning. She would not let anyone call me and tell me because she knew I would make her go to the doctor, which she hates to do, but I would not have stopped until she went. Anyway her aunt called me and told me. So my fiancee and I went to her home and her foot looked terrible. She had took a box cutter and tried to lance it herself. They then used the snakebite suction device that comes in the kit and she screamed like she was having labor pains. Oh my God, stuff came out of her foot that was terrible, then it just stopped and the pain was unbearable. Finally, I talked her in to going on to the emergency room at our local hospital. The doctor told her that absolutely no suction device should have been used. The doctor had to lance the wound and cut it to the bone to get out all of the infection. If you get bitten by one of these, go to the emergency room immediately.

Comment from: 7-12 Female (Patient) Published: October 12

I was bit several times on my arm and legs. At first I had no clue what it had been, so my mom took me to the doctor. The doctor said it had been a brown recluse. And I had a major reaction to the bite. The doctor told me and my mom put goldenseal on it. After we did this the bites went down and my skin looked normal after 2 months.

Comment from: Eirugal, 25-34 Male (Caregiver) Published: October 10

My brother was bitten by a brown recluse while doing field exercises with his platoon. He saw the spider on his gear and diagnosed the bite. When he sought medical attention at the Fort Hospital later the young doctor wrote it off as a zit. He was scheduled to fly to Chicago for leave and when he showed the bite to our MD aunt she took him to an emergency room and removed a golf ball size amount of necrotic tissue. One has to be one's own advocate in matters of medicine.

Comment from: 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: October 10

My Dr. identified my symptoms as being from a "venomous bite" and said there was nothing he could do to treat the bite and that he could only treat the symptoms, and that was optional. I was prescribed Prednisone and Benadryl was suggested, but again, he could only treat the symptoms. I asked twice about being prescribed an antibiotic, because of my concern for the swelling and inflammation. I was told antibiotics were not necessary. The area worsened, swelling and becoming extremely painful. On the 4th day, the area had burst open, at which time I went to the ER. I was given IV antibiotics and pain medication. The area was cleaned, a gauze dressing placed in the wound and the area was dressed. I was directed to schedule a follow up with a surgeon whose assistant treated me in the ER, and directed on how to dress the wound properly. The follow up was scheduled 4 days later, at which time I was sent directly to the hospital for an emergency surgical procedure to debris the wound of dead tissue and treat the staph infection. I was hospitalized from Thursday through Saturday. My concern is whether this was indeed a venomous bite or if it was misdiagnosed, actually being staph infection all along. I feel extremely angry, that a culture was not taken and my concern about being given antibiotics was brushed off by the original doctor. Incidentally, a blood test was performed during this visit to check my TSH level.

Comment from: 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: August 23

At first I thought I slept on my neck wrong, the pain I was feeling was terrible. But when I felt the back of my neck I felt a sore. I couldn't see for myself since the bite was on the back of my neck, but everyone who looked could see a trail of what appeared to be bite marks, and it did itch and then the pain started and it hurts badly. I went to the ER and the Doctor was awful! He said it is neck pain and under the same breath states yes you have infection. He didn't seem to care, really glad I went to the ER with no insurance just to have that done (he did nothing) he gave me antibiotics and pain medication. No tests were even done. So here I am still in pain and the sore doesn't look any better. It still itches, burns and appears to be crusting but yet not really healing. I am going to a different Doctor come Monday. I am very disappointed in the ER. All my research thus far on this spider it is nothing to take lightly.

Comment from: jafoami, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: August 15

I have a friend who was bitten by a brown recluse, and his doctor put him in a chamber breathing 100% oxygen, I don't know how long he was in the chamber, or if it was more than once, but he said the wound healed completely afterwards. I think I was bitten two days ago, and would like to NOT got through what some of you have.

Comment from: bdm, 45-54 Male Published: August 08

I was bitten two weeks ago. At first I didn't realize I was bitten until the following day. No real pain or discomfort. That evening it began to itch and I scratched it and a pustule popped and that's when the crater like circular wound began. It continuously filled with pus for 7 days and was the size of a dime. The first 3 days I simply washed with soap and water and had a bandage over it. I read on the internet to use hydrogen peroxide which helped speed up the healing process. I used this for the next five days, four times a day and at night used triple antibiotic ointment. Today is day 11 and my wound is almost complete healed. However it will take some time for the original skin color to return.

Comment from: [email protected], 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: August 08

I was bit by a brown recluse spider and did not know it. I was sleeping and I felt the sting. I thought it was a flea bite from my dog who sleeps with me but by morning, it was the size of a silver dollar and very painful. I went to the emergency room and the doctor told me it was a burn. He suggested I see a burn specialist. I knew I had not been burned. Then I saw a surgeon who performed three surgeries on my leg. Even though I had the surgeries, the venom continues to kill the tissue around the bite. What started out to be a silver dollar scar is now turning into a huge scar with deadening tissue still.

Comment from: c.g, 13-18 Male (Patient) Published: August 01

I was bitten by a brown recluse spider while I was cleaning out a wood shed. At first it didn't hurt but as a day or two went by, it became a small wound the size of a quarter. It later became very painful and pus filled. My doctor put me on antibiotics and told me to come back to see him if there is no improvement.

Comment from: Whaler Dan, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: July 25

The first physician seen was at a clinic while rather remotely away on vacation. She shot me with a double dose of anti-biotic(2 grams) and a prescription for Keflex. Upon return from vacation and immediately saw family physician. He sampled and promptly started me on a double-dose of sulfamethoxazole-TMP DS tablet. 2 pills 2x per day. His thinking was MERSA. I have since been told by many friends that it is a brown-recluse bite and they have had the same symptoms. I have been told of friends that had physicians cut large X's in order to drain the wound (very painful I am told), and others that did nothing but apply Neosporin. The wound starts small, like mosquito bite, and then progresses to a blood red circular band surrounding the wound, and then the wound gets deeper and full of pus. Next stage is a half golf ball shaped lump, still more pus. Then calf and foot swelled and medical attention sought. Total length of time from initial bite to begin the healing process, about 12-14 days. Still rather deep and raw at 14 days now though. Tests negative for MERSA.

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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