Wilderness Medicine, First Aid, and Outdoor Skills
Brown Recluse Spider Bites

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 - Brown Recluse Bites
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US Army First Aid Manual
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Appendix A: First Aid Case and Kits, Dressings, and Bandages
Appendix B: Rescue and Transportation Procedures
Appendix C: Common Problems/Conditions
Appendix D: Digital Pressure
Appendix E: Decontamination Procedures
Appendix F: Glossary

Reference Information

Be sure to also visit our reference section for information and pictures of the brown recluse spider.

 

Brown Recluse Spider Bite on AnkleBrown Recluse Spider Bite on Ankle
2 Years Old

This young gentleman was bitten by a brown recluse on his ankle. A very common location as they can crawl in socks in the evening. An ulceration began around 48 hours later and progressed for seven days until he presented for treatment. The ulcer measured approximately one inch wide and was 3/4" deep. This is a typical scar that remains. The venom of the recluse is made up of many proteins and enzymes. The mechanism of the venom is not completely understood. We do know there is local tissue death, and subsequent tissue loss. Very rarely renal failure and death do occur which is more common in children. The female brown recluse produces a greater amount of more potent venom than male.


Brown Recluse Spider Bite on Thigh
This middle-aged man was bitten on his left thigh by a brown recluse spider. This is a rather severe reaction to the brown recluse venom. This reaction is classic necrotic arachnidism, or loxoscelism. This reaction is more severe with female brown recluse bites as opposed to male brown recluse bites. And the destruction of tissue is usually worse in fatty areas of the body like: abdomen, buttocks, and thighs.

In this situation it took a long time for the tissue destruction to abate. As you can see in the photographs, he needed a skin graft and he did well.

Death is very rare with the brown recluse spider. It usually occurs in the very young and the very old.

NEVER PUT HEAT OR WARMTH ON A SPIDER BITE AS IT COULD INCREASE THE SPREAD OF THE VENOM AND REACTION TO THE BITE.

Day 1
Brown Recluse Spider Bite on Thigh

Day 2

Day 9

Day 11

Shift Graft 38 days later

 


Brown Recluse Spider Bite on FingerBrown recluse spider bite on the right hand of middle-aged woman.

Well over 90% of spider bites have one single lesion. This is a very unusual occurance of a brown recluse biting twice.

 

 

 

 

 
When bitten in the outdoors by a spider it is always best if one can capture the spider bit you. Understandably, this is difficult but will help the healthcare practitioner treat the bite. Cleaning the bite area is of the utmost importance. And cool compresses help decrease pain, as well decrease spread of venom. Antibiotics are helpful in the case of a secondary infection. Basic wound care are the essentials in all bites.



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