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

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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

Brown Recluse Spider

Brown Recluse Spider One of the most notorious spiders which gets a lot of bad press. These brown recluse spiders were captured in extreme Southern Illinois and commonly make their homes under rocks, logs, and abandoned cabins. They are usually non aggressive, and bites are usually sustained by rolling over in bed, putting on socks and shoes, or carrying boxes out of a dark basement. It's very common for this bite to be painless at the time that it occurs. The brown recluse spider is also called, the 'fiddleback spider' or 'violin spider' due to the dark violin shape on its cephalothorax (head). The venom is not completely understood, however we do know that it causes severe tissue death at the bite site and less often generalized reactions including renal failure, and even death. After 6-8 hours of a stinging sensation, there will be aching and severe itching at the area. In 2-3 days an ulcer may occur at the bite site. After 2-5 weeks, a rather noticeable hole in the skin can occur. The best way to identify a brown recluse spider bite is by identification of the spider.

About Pictures
The two pictures above are from Southern Illinois while the two at the bottom are from Arkansas. Notice the differences in size and color.

Arkansas recluse photos by:
Launa McCray R.N.

Outdoor Treatment for Brown Recluse Spider Bite:
Elevation of the extremity is important. Cool compresses rather than warm are important. Tetanus update should be provided. Keep the bite site clean until reaching your health care provider for further treatment. Antihistamines may help control itching but will not change the wound. Sometimes surgical excision of the wound site needs to occur.

 

 



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