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Brown Recluse Spider Bite


Brown recluse spiders are poisonous. The venom may cause severe skin and tissue damage after several hours or days.


Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You have trouble talking, walking, or breathing.

Seek care immediately 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 with vomiting.
  • You have numbness or tingling in the bite area.
  • 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.

Call your doctor 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.


You may need any of the following:

  • Antibiotics help prevent or fight a bacterial infection.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. 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.
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
  • 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.

Wound care:

  • Rest the area as directed to help your wound heal.
  • 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.
  • Compress the wound. A compression bandage around the wound can reduce pain and swelling.
  • 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.
  • Wash your hands before and after you take care of your wound.
  • Clean your wound with mild soap and water. Pat the area dry. Do not rub the wound. Clean your wound 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, redness, or fluid oozing out. Apply gentle pressure to stop any bleeding.
  • Cover your wound with a layer of sterile gauze bandage or other dressing as directed by your healthcare provider. If the bandage should be 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.

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. Brown recluse 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. Brown recluse 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.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

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

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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.

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