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Alternative Names Return to topLoxosceles reclusa
Definition Return to top
The brown recluse spider's bite is poisonous. The scientific name for the brown recluse is Loxosceles reclusa.
This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
Poisonous Ingredient Return to top
Brown recluse spider venom
Where Found Return to top
The brown recluse spider is most common in the south and central states of the United States, especially in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Louisiana, eastern Texas, and Oklahoma. However, the spider has been found in several large cities outside this range.
The brown recluse spider prefers dark, sheltered areas such as under porches and in woodpiles.
Symptoms Return to top
When the spider bites you, you may feel a sharp sting or nothing at all. Pain usually develops within the first several hours after being bitten, and may become severe.
Symptoms may include:
In rare cases:
Home Care Return to top
Apply a cold pack, then seek immediate medical attention.
Before Calling Emergency Return to top
Before calling emergency, determine the following:
The patient should be taken to the emergency room for treatment. The bite may not appear to be serious, but it can take some time to become severe. Treatment is important to reduce complications. If possible, place the spider in a secure container and bring it to the emergency room for identification.
Poison Control Return to top
The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning, including insect bites. They will give you further instructions.
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.
See: Poison control center - emergency number
What to Expect at the Emergency Room Return to top
The health care provider will measure and monitor the patient's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure.
Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. Because brown recluse spider bites can be painful, pain medicines may be given. Antibiotics may also be prescribed if the wound is infected.
If the wound is near a joint (such as a knee or elbow), the arm or leg may be placed into a brace or sling. If possible, the arm or leg will be elevated.
The brown recluse spider bite can leave a large crater and ugly scarring. It is possible that surgery may be needed weeks later to improve the appearance of the scar.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Deaths from brown recluse spider bites are more common in children. With proper medical attention, survival past 48 hours is usually a sign that recovery will follow. An ulcer may take up to 6 weeks to heal, with proper care.
References Return to top
Peterson ME. Brown spider envenomation. Clin Tech Small Anim Practice. 2006;21(4):191-193.Update Date: 2/17/2009 Updated by: A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Greg Juhn, MTPW, David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by Stephen C Acosta, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine, Portland VA Medical Center, Portland, OR. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network (5/20/2008).