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Brown Recluse Spider Bite

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As the "recluse" in Brown Recluse Spider may indicate, this spider is not aggressive, and being bit by one is very rare. They generally only bite when they feel threatened, and this happens most often when they are pressed up against your skin by putting on clothing, shoes or using a towel that they are in or on.

Most people who have been bit say they did not feel the initial bite at all. Slowly it becomes more painful, and in extreme cases, the wounded area has grown as large as 10 inches in diameter. The pain sets in anywhere from 2 to 8 hours after the bite, the effects worsen over the next 36 hours, and necrosis can develop within the next few days.

Symptoms of Brown Recluse Spider Bite

Bites from the Brown Recluse Spider can result in a wide range of symptoms. People may experience nausea, fever, hemolysis, malaise, thrombocytopenia and the gangrenous sloughing of the skin around the bite area. These symptoms are collectively known as loxoscelism, which is directly derived from the Brown Recluse Spider's scientific name, Loxosceles reclusa. Hemolysis is when the red-blood cells burst open and subsequently release hemoglobin in the surrounding fluid. Thrombocytopenia is when you have a relatively low platelet count.

The first symptoms to look for would be the systemic conditions. The venom races through the body very quickly, and some of the first things to occur would be nausea, fever, the formation of rashes, vomiting, and muscle pain. The worse symptoms (hemolysis, thrombocytopenia, and necrosis) are rare.

The majority of recorded Brown Recluse Spider bites are minor, and do not show signs of necrosis. There is however the possibility of severe dermonecrotic lesions and severe systemic symptoms. The possible systemic symptoms include damage to organs leading to organ failure and even death. Most deaths occur in people with weaker immune systems like the elderly and children under 7 years of age.

Some bites may also form a necrotizing ulcer. These ulcers completely destroy soft tissue, and when healed some months later, will leave deep, visible scars. The damaged tissue will be gangrenous, and will slowly slough off (molt).

Brown Recluse Spider Bite Treatment

Initial first aid for a Brown Recluse Spider bite should be an ice pack on the wound to control any inflammation, and the use of aloe vera to help control the pain. After this, immediately take the wounded individual to a hospital. Since the initial bite itself is painless, it is rare to notice the bite right away. If at all possible, capture the spider and bring it to the hospital. Correctly identifying the spider can be crucial to the medical care given to the individual.

In the rare cases where the wound results in necrosis, medical care is more difficult. Currently, there is no known or practiced treatment for necrosis. The following Brown Recluse Spider bite treatment is the norm for necrosis, although individual doctors may differ in their methods. The affected limb would first be elevated and secured as to not move. A tetanus shot would be given to the patient, and then the simple application of ice and basic wound care.

Various different treatments have been attempted in the past, but none have been clinically tested and shown to be supremely beneficial to necrosis. Some of these treatments include antihistamines, dapsone, nitroglycerin, antivenom and electric shock.

As bad as the Brown Recluse Spider bite can be, the vast majority of bites eventually heal without serious medical care. That being said, if a bite from this spider is suspected, immediately go to the hospital. As mentioned, necrosis is rare, but is serious enough to take no chances.


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