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What was your experience with brown recluse spider bite?

Picture of Brown Recluse Spider  Most spiders are absolutely harmless to humans. In fact, of the over 20,000 different species of spiders that inhabit the Americas, only 60 are capable of biting humans. Within that small group, only four are known to be dangerous to humans: the brown recluse, the black widow, the hobo or aggressive house spider, and the yellow sac spider. Within this select group, only the brown recluse and the black widow spider have ever been associated with significant disease and very rare reports of death.Deaths from brown recluse spiders have been reported only in children younger than seven years. Brown recluse spiders are native to the Midwestern and Southeastern states. Documented populations of brown recluse spiders outside these areas are extremely rare. In recent years controversy has arisen over the appearance of brown recluse spiders in California and Florida. At this time most experts agree that the brown recluse is not endemic to these areas. With increasing travel, individual spiders and spider bites can be found in areas where the spider is not endemic, and health care practitioners should consider this when treating suspected bites.Fewer than 10 individual spiders have ever been collected outside of these native states. Most false sightings are due to confusion with one of the 13 other species found in the same family.The most common non-brown recluse spiders are the desert recluse found in Texas, Arizona, and California, and the Arizona recluse. No deaths have ever been reported from non-brown recluse spiders. Bites from these cousins produce mild to moderate local skin disease.Features: Brown recluse spiders are notable for their characteristic violin pattern on the back of the cephalothorax, the body part to which the legs attach. The violin pattern is seen with the base of the violin at the head of the spider and the neck of the violin pointing to the rear. These small non-hairy spiders are yellowish-tan to dark brown in color with darker legs. They have legs about one inch in length. The name of the genus, Loxosceles, means six eyes. Most other spiders have eight eyes. Yet this unique feature of the brown recluse is lost on the casual observer because the eyes are too small to be seen with the naked eye.Habits: These spiders are not aggressive and bite only when threatened, usually when pressed up against the victim's skin. They seek out dark, warm, dry environments such as attics, closets, porches, barns, basements, woodpiles, and old tires. Its small, haphazard web, found mostly in corners and crevices, is not used to capture prey. Most bites occur in the summer months.
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A brown recluse spider bite definitely hurts. The first day it was not that bad, but the next day it started to sting and burn. The burning feels like a sunburn under the skin but intense.  Then I would get sometimes shocks of pain every once in a while in the area. The bite looked like a bull's eye or a target -- dark center and then a red rash type ring around it. There was also itching involved. The doctor gave me a corticosteriod cream to help the tissue and ice eased the burning and pain.
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I never saw or even felt the initial spider bite on the inside of my wrist. That night I thought it was just a mosquito bite. The next day it started to itch, so I applied cortisone. The next day it started to hurt somewhat, so I took some aspirin. The next morning my whole arm was swollen twice its usual size, and I had red streaks up to my elbow. I then went to the hospital where they did a blood test and determined that I was bitten by a brown recluse. They gave me medications, which helped with the swelling. The bite area became necrotic, about 1/4 inch diameter and about an inch deep. You could see the nerve tissues and bone. I treated the wound twice a day, and wrapped it with conform gauze. After 15 years I still have the scar. The doctor told me that there was a chance I could lose my hand, or have permanent nerve damage. The company I worked for at the time said that I was not covered since I did not report the injury within 24 hours. My lawyer said he would get me 2.1 million dollars if I lost my hand. Luckily it healed up okay after a couple of weeks with no loss of function.
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I read a lot of article on the brown recluse spider, and not one said that they are found in my area. I live in western Pennsylvania and seven years ago, my daughter, then only a year old, was bitten and almost lost her foot. My brother also was bitten on two occasions and had to have plastic surgery to cover the area where he was bitten. I was told that the spider hides in mulch and comes out when the mulch is laid down. I took three trips to the emergency room and saw three different doctors before finding out what was wrong with my child.
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I was bitten by a brown recluse spider. The bite felt like a little bee sting. It wasn't that painful. After three hours, though my arm was swollen and red. I went to the emergency room and they sent me home telling me it was a mosquito bite and to put ice on it. Eight hours later, my arm was in excruciating pain and it was terribly swollen. I went to a different emergency room and they told me the same thing and to put ice on it. I could not understand why the doctors kept making me feel stupid when I knew something was very wrong. The next say, my arm was paralyzed, so I went to yet another emergency room, where they did x-rays and gave me pain medicine and antibiotics. It worked for a little while and they sent me home. The next day was Monday, and I was able to go see my family doctor who immediately admitted me to the hospital. I am alive and well and able to use my arm because of my family doctor. I ended up at the hospital, where they kept me for four days and the doctor had to remove a piece of my arm. The spider bite was very painful and I would not wish this pain on my worst enemy.
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I was bitten at an unknown time. I never felt a thing. I woke the next AM with a 1 cm. swelling on my back between my shoulders.  Not much pain, about 2 on a scale of 10. I went to the ER mid-morning with more swelling and redness.  I was diagnosed with an infected blackhead.  They tried to drain it with no success but with an increase in pain 5 out of 10. Before I left, I looked at the area. I had a black spot in the middle of the red swelling which was now 5 cm, red, raised and tender. I checked it again that afternoon and it was now over 10 cm. and the black area was the size of a quarter. The next morning, it was the size, shape and color of half a large apple with a center black area 4cm.  It was treated topically with drawing agents and triple antibiotic agents for a week without much change.  I had a Lyme disease titer done and it was double positive! I had been tested shortly before and it was negative.  After that, I developed a rash that covered my entire back from my hairline to waist while waiting for the test results. I took doxycycline and immediately got rid of the rash and began to heal.  Two months later, the sore had closed, leaving me with a large scar. The tick infection was coincidental to the spider bite.
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Over 20 years ago, I was bitten on my butt by a brown recluse spider.  I didn't know at first what had bitten me, but symptoms included nausea, weakness on the lower right hand side of my body, swollen lymph nodes, and the bite continued to get bigger.  I was given antibiotics and an ointment for the actual bite.  Every year it is as if I have been bitten in the exact same place and the nausea and bite actually appears.  My lymph nodes are also swollen.  The doctor in Florida told me that this would occur.
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I know I have been bitten by a Brown Recluse Spider, 4 days ago I noticed a small little bite, but didn't hurt really, today it is the size of a fist, swollen and so sore it makes me cry. Went to the ER and they told me that it wasn't an emergency and sent me home.
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I was bitten by a brown recluse spider I never felt it when it bit me it was on my little finger as the day wore on it got worse by midnight I was in severe pain all I could do was squeeze and hold it tight I went to the doctor but they could not get the shot in it was to swollen.  I got some pills the pharmacists told me someone said take a small piece of clear plastic wrap and twist it around my finger when it would fall off I'd do it again.  It would get really wet like it was drawing out the poison after a few weeks it healed and there's hardly a scar.
Avatar universal
I live in Minnesota where there are supposedly "no brown recluse spiders". I have had a necrotic skin lesion, about the size of a quarter, on my thigh for about 2 months. I have seen multiple doctors, had many wound cultures, blood tests, etc, and no one has been able to come up with a diagnosis that makes sense, so a couple of my doctors have finally determined that it has to be a BRS bite.(for which there seems to be no proven treatment. I have been on 3 rounds of antibiotics, which may have prevented a secondary bacterial infection. I have been a nurse in an urgent care clinic, and have to see I have never before seen an insect bite like this. These spiders have incredibly destructive venom. I assume I came in contact with this bug while laying wood chips that were shipped to my area from down south. I have been told, that eventually my wound will heal, but that it will take a very long time, and will leave a nasty scar. In the meantime, my doctor is watching the wound closely, and does periodic blood tests to make sure that this does not become a systemic infection. Good luck to all!! (By the way, the pain from this type of bite is very severe!!)
Avatar universal
The initial bite on my leg did not hurt and the next day thought I'd been bitten by a mosquito. Coincidentally I went to the dentist that same day and the hygienist asked why I was limping, I rolled up my pant leg and showed her the swollen wound on my leg. She gasped and said it was a Brown recluse bite and that a former patient had the same thing but no doctor would diagnose the bite accurately since Brown Recluses are not supposed to be in our area.  The former patient ended up with 15 skin grafts and her arm looked like it had been mangled in a farming accident. The hygienist told me to go to the emergency room and no matter what the doctor said and DEMAND they listen to me and tell them I have a Brown recluse bite. She told me to demand they put me on this specific antibiotic. I caught the infection so early I barely have a scar but she was right no one in the emergency room believed me and wanted to send me home with pain meds. I pitched such a fit they prescribed this antibiotic. Brown recluses may not be indigenous to this area but they can certainly hitchhike their way up here in wood and other products. It's very hot and to their liking in the summers here so Emergency Rooms need to change their protocols and realize Brown Recluses can survive outside their typical range and habitat.  Most painful thing I've ever gone through but I was one of the lucky ones! Early diagnosis and treatment is vital.
Avatar universal
I noticed a small bite on my forehead a few weeks ago. I had no idea what bit me, but I put a topical cream on the space to stop the itching. It wound started getting bigger and swelling. I would clean the wound daily, but then I started getting a fever and chills, with tenderness, which was very painful and started to move down one side of my face. My wife called the family doctor and told her that I might have been bitten by a brown recluse. The doctor calling in a sulfur-based antibiotic, which I was instructed to use twice daily. Swelling, redness and tenderness started going away but the hole and black skin increased. The doctor asked that I come in and agreed that it was a BRS. She had to remove the black dead skin, packed the hole with Mupirocin ointment that kills infection. I was told to keep covered 24/7 treat with Mupirocin ointment three times daily. I returned a week later with fresh pink skin smaller hole and no black skin. My doctor said to keep covered, and that the new tissue will continue to grow and cover the hole and there will be no scar. Within two weeks of antibiotics and ointment when I go back in 10 days, don't think there will be much left to heal.  She said the secret to avoiding a scar is to keep wet and covered until healed.
Avatar universal
I got bit by a brown recluse on my left cheek of my face. It must have happened while I was sleeping, because I never saw it. I thought it was a zit, because it hurt under the skin so I assumed it just hadn't come to a head yet. I squeezed and poked, but that didn't do any good. Right now my face is swollen about 3x the normal size it should be and I'm having constant muscle pains and fatigue, and I threw up right after eating. I'm not sure if I should go to a doctor because I have no insurance mainly, and because I still have a prescription antibiotic for spider bites from March 10.
Avatar universal
I have been bitten by a Brown Recluse spider and I would also not wish this on my worst enemy. I also have rheumatoid arthritis. I cannot tell if the medication is making me feel this odd or the bite itself is, but I do NOT feel right and the bite is getting larger and very smelly although I am taking very good care of it. I was bitten twice on my right breast. I have been through quite a few problems in my life but never have I been this weak nor this afraid. Take care of yourselves.
Avatar universal
Unbelievable, I was bitten 6 months ago in a hotel laundry/ironing room where it was warm dark, unventilated and for most of the time without people. The symptoms were classic, the shock and unbelief of what this spider can do to you is awesome. After the initial operations and daily wound care the side effects not usually known were nausea, dizziness, failing eyesight, liver, kidney and pancreas monitoring and high antibiotic medication together with steroid treatment to stop inflammation. Then a series of painful ulcers developing on the spine requiring 8 operations. One ulcer or abscess was 87mm in Diameter on my spine. The Doctors here in England were very good but had no experience such as Doctors in USA with this type of incident. Now 6 months later I am experiencing major stomach issues the antibiotics I had killed off my natural good bacteria and I have just started treatment to get rid of a C' Diff infection so all in all the little spider is very powerful if it bites you get to the nearest hospital and prepare yourself for 6-12 months of pain and tribulations.
Avatar universal
In November 2004 I was bitten on the ankle by brown recluse. I spent 3 months in hospital. I had three operations with one being a skin graft. I nearly lost my leg the infection was so bad. I lost the ability to walk and had to learn to do this again. I cannot describe the pain it was so bad. Here it is 2010 and I still have trouble with my leg. The skin is so damaged that the least nick or scrape creates a wound that is still hard to heal. There is lots of swelling on this leg also and the circulation is very poor.
Avatar universal
In 1972 when I was seventeen I was bitten on the back of the thigh by a spider which saved for the doctor.  My doctor had never seen a spider like the one that bit me.  My biology teacher identified it as a juvenile brown recluse.  Eight hours after receiving the bite, I had a severe headache and was very sleepy.  My thigh turned very red. 24 hours after receiving the bite I received a shot of epinephrine and antibiotic pills to take. By that time, I had turned bright red from head to toe and had a six to eight inch diameter purple blotch on my thigh.  In the center was a black spot about the size of a half dollar.  I was nauseated and had difficulty breathing.  The rash itched unmercifully.  It took three months to heal.  The bite wound just looked kind of like a bruise and finally opened up about three and a half months after the initial bite.  It took another three to four months to heal.
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On my right calf I have two puncture wounds that haven't healed. My leg hurts from the bites down. Sometimes it is hard to walk. I had very high blood pressure after I was bitten. It has been a month and one bite hasn't healed and I am getting a little worried. I am sure it is some kind of spider bite because I destroyed a couple of nests outside my front door.
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This has been the 3rd time being bitten by a brown recluse. The first time was in Alabama, which was on my neck. The bite had ulcerated my skin, and oozed the infectious poison the spider had delivered. It took roughly 3 to 5 weeks for it to fully heal, although there is still scarring to this day. The second time was in Michigan. I had brought up some wood from Alabama which is used to light a fire. I believe they call it lightered, or fatwood is what we describe it in Michigan. Well the brown recluse came from a knot hole in the wood and bit me on the hand. It oozed pus for 3 to 4 weeks, and I constantly put triple anti-biotic ointment on the bite. It eventually healed. The 3rd time was just recently in Michigan again. I believe when I brought this wood from Alabama to Michigan I brought back a nest of Brown Recluses, which are now loose in my home. I've bug bombed, sprayed, and killed at least 2 of them but I think that was not enough. They are one of the most elusive, and aggressive spiders I've ever dealt with in my life. I was actually bitten twice the last time I encountered these 8 legged devils. I was bitten on my ankle, and just in the back of my knee. Both are ulcerated, and have been extremely painful and very itchy, and still bleeding. This spider serves no purpose in life aside from making one miserable. It's unfortunate that there is NOT an anti-venom.
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I was 70 when I was bitten by a brown recluse spider about 4 inches above my left ankle. I had been bitten when I was 16 by a black widow and thought it was the same thing but I immediately started soaking the site in hot Epsom salts twice daily. After a month it was about 1inch wide and about 3 cm deep with a white gel over the top.  I finally went to the doctor who cleaned off the gel and put a salve on. I continued the twice daily soaks for 4 months, and I now have a brown scar but no hole.  I am glad I don't have anything more than that when I see what it could have looked like... even with medication!
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I am from Arkansas, right in the epicenter of Brown Recluse habitat and have grown up with several close calls to being bitten by them. I have numerous pictures I could submit of spiders I captured while living in the Arkansas River Valley region. Under Arkansas law, only cockroaches are required to be exterminated from a renter's premises, and this should be modified in areas with high infestations of this species in my opinion. Recently, a classmate recently suffered a bite from this spider in the Twin Cities, apparently having been carried by someone's luggage. The hospital where I now reside in Iowa had no experience with this species and erroneously instructed the victim to use heat in treatment, which spread the venom significantly and causing severe necrosis, causing the victim to become hospitalized for several days with an open wound to drain away the toxins. I would want for all American hospitals to be keenly aware of the possibility of brown recluse travel and if instructing, to give the correct information. Their faulty advice has effectively ruined what confidence I had in their services.
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This site somewhat pissed me off, because it said that if you thought you were bitten by a brown recluse to get medical attention THAT DAY.  Well, although my symptoms didn't fit 100%, I decided that it would be better to be safe than sorry and went on to the ER.  Turns out, there's nothing there that they can do for a recluse bite...there is no antidote to the venom. So why did they tell me to go?!?  Now, I've wasted $100 I didn't have on the ER visit co-pay!!
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I got bit on the knee.  I was staying at the hospital with a granddaughter and got bit in the hospital!  My knee swelled up three times its normal size. A doctor was seen within 8 hours and I was put on an antibiotic. It took three months and three rounds of antibiotics to go back to normal.  I was sore for weeks after the bite. This has been very painful!
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I was bitten on the bottom of my leg a month ago.  The pain is constant and sharp.  No necrosis as of yet, but from what I've been told I still have a long way to go.
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I was bitten on the back of my upper arm about 2-3 inches above the elbow.  It burned fiercely and I thought I had been bitten by a fire ant.  I never saw it.  I was out in my yard in Florida hanging clothes to dry.  I began swelling into a red bump.  I put antibiotic cream on it a lot but the bump kept growing bigger through the next day.  Then it got a funny looking center and reached the size of 3 plus inches across with skin coming off of it forming a large crater.  It was painful and scary looking so I went to the doctor on day 3.  He recognized it immediately and prescribed ointment as well as pills.  Layers of tissue came off the area for several weeks.  After several months it healed up.  It took about a year for the area to appear normal again.
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