- Brown Recluse Spider Bite – Stages
- Brown Recluse Spider Bite Symptoms
- Brown Recluse Spider Bite Treatment
The majority of spiders are not harmful to humans. Of the over 20,000 various spider species in America, only about 60 are able to bite humans. Within this small group, there are only 4 acknowledged to be of harm to humans – of which the brown recluse is one. Only the black widow and brown recluse spiders have been linked with any disease or any very rare incidents of death.
The brown recluse spiders are noted for their pattern of a violin on the back of the body. This violin pattern has the large part of the violin towards the spider head and violin neck pointing toward the rear.
The brown recluse spiders are not known to be aggressive and only bite when they are threatened, normally when pressed against the skin of the victim. This spider looks for warm, dark, dry surroundings such as closets, attics, barns, porches, old tires, woodpiles as well as basements. Its webs are mostly found in crevices or corners and they are not able to capture any prey. Most brown recluse bites happen in the months of the summer.
The bite of the brown recluse is enormously poisonous, more poisonous that that of the rattlesnake. But the recluse venom creates fewer diseases than the bite of a rattlesnake due to the small amount of venom which is injected in the victims. This venom is lethal to tissues and cells.
- This venom is a gathering of enzymes. A specific enzyme causes devastation of membranes of local cells and this disturbs the reliability of tissue leading to interruption of fat, skin as well as blood vessels. This leads to the eventual death of the tissue known as necrosis especially in areas in the immediate area around the site of bite.
- This venom induces an immune response in the victim. This immune system discharges inflammatory mediators such as histamines, cytokines as well as interleukins that signal blood cells which are white to come to the injury area.
Brown Recluse Spider Bite – Stages
In very bad cases, these same agents of inflammation can also cause injury. It is these secondary causes of the venom, which are rare, may cause more substantial side effects of the bite:
- Red blood cell destruction
- Platelet count which is low
- Clots of blood in the capillaries but loss of ability to develop clots where needed
- Kidney damage
Brown Recluse Spider Bite Symptoms
The brown recluse bite usually goes unnoticed in the beginning due to the fact that bites are painless. In some case there is certain minor burning with the feeling of the sting of the bee that could be observed at the stage of the bite. The symptoms normally develop 2 to 8 hours after the initial bite. Please remember that majority of bites create very little tissue damage.
Victims may have these symptoms:
- Pain at the site of the bite which is severe and develops after approximately 4 hours
- Itching which is severe
- Muscle pain
At first, the site of the bite is a little red and when examined closely it may show fang marks. More common, the site of the bite can become fixed and heal with very little scarring finishing healing in days or weeks. But in those occasional cases, the local reaction will be much starker with swelling as well as blistering often leading to a blue color, and then leading to scarring and necrotic lesion. Signs which can be present are:
- Commonly blistering
- Necrosis or death of the skin and less common the subcutaneous fat
- Destructive and severe lesions with in rare cases deep and wide borders
If you believe that you or someone in your household has been bitten by this type of spider, the individual needs to be seen by a medical professional that day. If at all possible, bring the spider to the doctor’s office as identification of this spider will be helpful in making the diagnosis correctly.
If the individual is unable to see their primary care physician that day, the individual should see medical professionals at an emergency room.
Brown Recluse Spider Bite Treatment
The physician will try to first make the correct diagnosis. The doctor will ask questions about the bite event, time of the bite, any other medical problems, medication as well as allergies
Lab studies will be performed including complete blood work up, electrolytes, kidney functions, blood clotting studies and urinalysis.
After the initial evaluation, the medical professional may provide treatment as follows:
- Tetanus shot
- Pain medication
- Antibiotics if any signs of infection are present in the wound area
- Anti-histamines such as Benadryl for relief of itching
There is no anti-venom available in the US to counteract the brown recluse spider bite. There are some controversial therapies such as steroids and the drug dapsone. But these are reserved for individuals with very severe systemic disease such as anemia, blood clotting problems and kidney failure. These therapies have proven to have little benefits.
The individual will need to have a follow up visit with the physician due to the wounds needing to be checked daily for at least 3 to 4 days. After the initial exam by the physician, the individual can expect the following type of follow-up:
- Daily follow up of the wounds for the initial 96 hours in order to assess the probability or extent of necrosis of the wound
- For individuals with systemic disease, hospitalization may be necessary
- Antibiotes will be continued until any secondary infections clear
- Follow up with surgeon if there is necrosis of the wound. At these times the surgeon can remove very carefully any dead tissue in necrotic areas