Brown Recluse Spider

Loxascelidae, Loxosceles reclusa

Spider Bites

Brown Recluse Links: Overview | Bites | Spider Control

Health and Medical Disclaimer

Common Questions:

What Should You Do if You Are Bitten by a Brown Recluse Spider?

The recommended treatment for most actual brown recluse bites (the ones that do not become traumatic) is simple first aid: RICE therapy.

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

Antibiotics work against bacteria and have no effect on spider venom. However, regardless of the causative agent, it is wise to seek medical attention if you feel that it is warranted. (Source R. S. Vetter) The patient should be taken to the emergency room for treatment. The bite may not appear to be very severe and may take some time to progress to a more severe state. Treatment can be important to minimize complications. If possible, bring the spider to the emergency room for identification. Call Poison Control if you are having trouble evaluating the situation. The number is 1-800-222-1222, anywhere in the US.

Poison Control, or a local emergency number

You will be instructed on what to do immediately following the bite. The patient should be taken to the emergency room.


This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number.

You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


What to Expect if You Get Bitten (Prognosis)

"About 10% of brown recluse bites cause moderate or greater tissue damage and scarring, but the vast majority heal very nicely without medical intervention. There is still not one proven death from brown recluse bite (a person was bitten by a spider caught in the act and properly identified). While there are several highly probable deaths reported in children, these are extremely rare occurrences, about one every decade or so." (Source UC Davis)

The recluse spiders' venom is a necrotoxin, which means it destroys tissue cells. A bite may initially cause a sharp sting or may cause no pain at all. Pain may develop within the first several hours, or even up to six to eight hours after the bite, possibly becoming severe.

The victim may experience general feelings of discomfort, malaise, or nausea, and sometimes intense itching. In severe cases there is sloughing off of the skin and formation of a blister, then an ulcer in the area of the bite. There may be a reddish to purplish color in a bullseye patter to the skin area around bite, with a subsequent sloughing off of the skin, leaving a raw deep area of exposed tissue. These can take weeks to heal in some cases. Chills or fever and sweating may be experienced.

In rare cases:
Blood in urine
Kidney failure

Common Questions:



National Library of Medicine EPA

"BROWN RECLUSE SPIDER," Michael F. Potter, Urban Entomologist, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky

Pest Notes: Brown Recluse and Other Recluse Spiders, Author: R. S. Vetter, Entomology, UC Riverside. Produced by UC Statewide IPM Program, University of California, Davis, CA 95616

Brown Recluse Links: Overview | Bites | Spider Control


Health and Medical Disclaimer

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