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Brown Recluse Spider Bite


Brown recluse spiders are poisonous. A bite wound may heal on its own, but you will need treatment if the wound gets worse. The venom may cause severe skin and tissue damage after several hours or days.



  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria. Always take your antibiotics exactly as ordered by your healthcare provider. Do not stop taking your medicine unless directed by your healthcare provider. Never save antibiotics or take leftover antibiotics that were given to you for another illness.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.
    • Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.
    • Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell your healthcare provider if your pain does not decrease.
    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Ice the wound:

Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Put ice in a plastic bag. Wrap the bag with a towel and put it on the site of the spider bite for 10 to 20 minutes.

Elevate the wound:

Keep the bite area above the level of your heart to help decrease redness and swelling. If you were bitten on the arm or leg, prop it on pillows to keep the area elevated comfortably.

Compress the wound:

A compression bandage around the wound can reduce pain and swelling.

Prevent another brown recluse spider bite:

  • Recognize the spider: Brown recluse spiders are usually brown and have a pattern on the back that looks like a violin.
  • Learn where to find them: These spiders live in the central and southern parts of the United States. They can be found from April to October and are active at night. They prefer to live in dark, warm, dry places. Some examples are under rocks, boards, and woodpiles, in dark corners, and under furniture.
  • Use caution: These spiders are not aggressive. They bite people only when threatened. Make noise when you enter attics or other spaces where spiders may live. Noise may scare them away. Use caution when you remove a web or spider.
  • Be proactive: Clean closets, sheds, and attics completely. Shake out clothes or shoes that are lying on the floor or stored before you put them on. Check your sheets before you get into bed. Remove woodpiles and other trash from outside areas, especially piles where spiders can live. Wear gloves, long sleeved shirts, pants, and shoes when you work near wood or garbage piles.

Wound care:

  • Wash your hands before and after you take care of your wound.
  • Clean your wound with mild soap and water, and pat dry with a clean towel. Do this as often as directed by your healthcare provider. If you cannot reach the wound, have someone help you.
  • Carefully check the wound and the area around it. Watch for more swelling and redness around the wound, or fluid oozing out of it. If there is bleeding, you may apply gentle pressure.
  • Cover your wound with a layer of sterile gauze bandage or other dressing as directed by your healthcare provider. If the bandage is wrapped around your arm or leg, wrap it snugly but not too tight. It is too tight if you feel tingling or lose feeling in that area.
  • Keep the bandage clean and dry.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a rash, itching, or swelling after you take your medicine.
  • The bite becomes red and swollen.
  • You have pain or problems moving the injured part or get tender lumps in the groin or armpits.
  • Your wound continues to get larger.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have a fever or chills.
  • The skin around your wound gets red, or the wound gets more painful.
  • You have a headache, or nausea and vomiting.
  • You have numbness or tingling in the bite area.
  • You have trouble talking, walking, or breathing.
  • Your urine is darker, or you urinate less than is usual for you.
  • Your wound does not stop bleeding even after you apply pressure.
  • Your wound or bandage has pus or a bad smell.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Brown Recluse Spider Bite (Discharge Care)

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