Seek immediate emergency medical treatment and call 911 or the local emergency aid number, or poison control. Wash the area with soap and water. Wrap ice in a washcloth or similar material and place it on the bite area. Leave it on for 10 minutes and then off for 10 minutes. Repeat this process. Reduce ice contact time for individuals who have circulatory problems.
Before calling emergency, determine the following:
The patient should be taken to the emergency room for treatment. The bite may not appear to be serious, but it can take some time to become severe. Treatment is important to reduce complications. If possible, place the spider in a secure container and bring it to the emergency room for identification.
The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning, including insect bites. They will give you further instructions.
This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The health care provider will measure and monitor the patient's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure.
Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. Because brown recluse spider bites can be painful, pain medicines may be given. Antibiotics may also be prescribed if the wound is infected.
If the wound is near a joint (such as a knee or elbow), the arm or leg may be placed into a brace or sling. If possible, the arm or leg will be elevated.
The brown recluse spider bite can leave a large crater and ugly scarring. It is possible that surgery may be needed weeks later to improve the appearance of the scar.
Deaths from brown recluse spider bites are more common in children. With proper medical attention, survival past 48 hours is usually a sign that recovery will follow. An ulcer may take up to 6 weeks to heal, with proper care.
Peterson ME. Brown spider envenomation. Clin Tech Small Anim Practice. 2006;21(4):191-193.
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