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Brown Recluse Spider Bite - Treatment

What was the treatment for your brown recluse spider bite?

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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.

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Patient Comments & Reviews

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Brown Recluse Spider Bite - Experience

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Brown Recluse Spider Bite - Symptoms

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