Spider Bites - Brown Recluse

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Brown recluse spider bite symptoms

The bite of a brown recluse spider leads to a mild stinging, followed by local redness and severe pain that usually develops within eight hours but may occur later. Some reports of brown recluse bites describe a blue or purple area around the bite, surrounded by a whitish ring and large red outer ring in a "bull's eye" pattern. A fluid-filled blister forms at the site and then sloughs off to reveal a deep ulcer that may turn black.

Picture of a brown recluse spider. Note the violin pattern on the cephalothorax and light-colored hairless abdomen.
Picture of a brown recluse spider. Note the violin pattern on the cephalothorax and light-colored hairless abdomen.
Picture of a brown recluse spider
Picture of a brown recluse spider
Picture of a brown recluse spider head close-up
Picture of a brown recluse spider head close-up

Generalized symptoms of bites from black widow and brown recluse spiders may include:

  • fever,
  • nausea,
  • vomiting ,
  • headache,
  • abdominal pain,
  • joint pain or stiffness,
  • overall feelings of malaise,
  • rash, and
  • muscle cramping or tension.

While black widow spider bites are hardly ever fatal, rare deaths have occurred from brown recluse spider bites and are more common in children than in adults.

If a spider was not observed inflicting the bite, it is difficult if not impossible to determine whether a spider bite occurred, since many conditions of the skin may produce the same symptoms as a spider bite. Streptococcal and Staphylococcal infections, early lesions of herpes simplex or zoster, burns, stings or bites from other arthropods or insects (including fleas, bedbugs, mosquitos, biting flies, ants, and ticks), thorn injury, and early Lyme disease all may be characterized by skin findings similar to those from a spider bite. Spiders rarely bite people, and only if threatened. People often thing they have spider bites when the irritation is from another cause.

Return to Spider Bites (Including Black Widow and Brown Recluse)

See what others are saying

Comment from: Miamimom, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: April 16

I was bitten by a brown recluse spider 2 weeks ago. I had what looked like a very bad bruise on my arm. I didn"t realize until 2 days later what type of spider it was. The bite did not hurt but I felt very bad, exhausted with muscle fatigue, and some dizziness too. I used activated charcoal on the bite for a week and the bite cleared up. I still feel very tired and achy sometimes. I"m taking charcoal and echinacea by mouth and will continue to until the symptoms disappear.

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Comment from: Sandy, 55-64 Female (Caregiver) Published: May 21

I knew an elderly neighbor who was bitten by a brown recluse spider. The area of his leg became very inflamed, and then the skin began to slough off and break down, going into deeper layers. He was hospitalized but the spider bite became infected and the infection spread to his blood. He died 3 weeks after the bite.

Was this comment helpful?Yes

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