Spider Bites (Black Widow, Brown Recluse) - Treatments

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What should you do if you are bitten by a black widow or brown recluse spider?

  • Wash the bite area with soap and water.
  • Elevate the area to prevent spread of the venom.
  • Tie a snug bandage above the area (if on an arm or leg) to further reduce spread of the venom, but do not make the bandage too tight that it impairs the blood circulation.
  • Always seek immediate emergency medical care. An anti-venom medication is sometimes given for black widow spider bites. Doctors use different types of medications to treat spider bites, including pain relievers, muscle relaxants, and/or corticosteroids. Sometimes hospitalization is required after black widow or brown recluse spider bites.
  • If possible, retrieve the spider and bring it with you to the health care practitioner so that it can be definitively identified.
  • A tetanus booster shot may be necessary, depending upon the date of the patient's last immunization.
  • Calling the Poison Control Center (24-hour hotline at 1-800-222-1222 in the U.S.) allows you to reach toxicology experts who can work with a health care provider in establishing the proper diagnosis and management of a spider bite.
Return to Spider Bites (Including Black Widow and Brown Recluse)

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Comment from: Julie, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: October 08

Back in 2003, I was bitten by a brown recluse spider while at a barbeque. I noticed that evening when I returned home my right leg was very sore and a little bit red. The next day, the redness increased and spread with a layer of skin starting to separate from the other layers of skin. My leg felt very hot and sore. I went to the emergency room, my leg was excised, and I was given Penicillin VK, which I had an allergic reaction to. I was then given Levaquin, which aided in the healing. This began an entire year of treatment (excising and antibiotics). I was very fortunate that I got med help within hours of getting bit and probably saved my leg. I have severe scarring from the excising but other than that relatively normal. Best to eliminate spider bites is prevention. Be aware of your surroundings and areas indoors and out, shake out your clothes and shoes before dressing.

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Comment from: reliable, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: September 16

I have received two brown recluse spider bites within 14 months. I have not sought a doctor's care (I did ask a doctor about my bite when in the office for another matter and the bite was okay) and have treated my bites at home. It is a tedious process but well worth the effort. My scar from the first bite is barely visible (the second is still being treated). Once you notice the bite, clean it with peroxide (peroxide is a debride agent) and then apply a paste made with vinegar and water. Use this paste for 2 to 3 days (this helps pull the venom from the wound). Keep the bite covered with gauze so the wound can breathe. After applying the paste I use a mixture of one drop each of the following essential oils: basil, bergamot, clove, frankincense, and rosemary. Then add 5 drops of lavender. Twice a day everyday debride the wound using peroxide and a sharp double edged razor blade. With the razor blade cut away (always cutting sideways...never down into the skin) the dead skin. Keep up this routine until the wound finally has a pink hue to it (this means all the dead skin is gone). After all the dead skin is gone stop using the razor but keep up the oil and peroxide treatment. I put a little Neosporin on the gauze through all the stages to assist in the fight against infection. This treatment has worked well for me and it may not work well for you. But, it is worth a try. You should make sure you do not have an allergy to any of the oils before mixing your treatment oil. The doctor was surprised that I was able to do so well with my bite, but was very reluctant to tell me I did well since they do not like to tell you a home remedy works. You just need to keep a close eye on the wound and be diligent. If you remove the gauze patch and the wound is starting to smell, add 5 more drops of lavender to your mixture or contact your doctor. (Lavender is what was used during the Civil Was to stave off infection.)

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