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What does a brown recluse spider bite look like?

Brown Recluse Spiders

Brown Recluse Spider Bite

Brown recluse spiders are capable of biting when disturbed or threatened. This may occur when a person unknowingly wears an infested piece of clothing or rolls over in his or her sleep. Similarly, brown recluses are known to build their webs in boxes and beneath old furniture; reaching into these areas may result in a bite.


Reactions to the brown recluse spider bite are variable. Depending on the bite location and amount of venom injected, reactions run the gamut from mild skin irritation to skin lesions. Most bites heal themselves and do not result in lasting tissue damage.

These bites are not painful at first and often go unnoticed until the first side effects appear. Symptoms do not usually manifest for a few hours after the bite. After reddening and swelling, a blister may appear at the bite site. Victims of brown recluse spider bites can experience fever, convulsions, itching, nausea and muscle pain.

In extreme cases, brown recluse spider bites may result in necrosis, or the death of living cells. In this case, painful open wounds appear and do not heal quickly. Wounds will appear purple and black at this time. If left untreated, necrotic and ulcerous wounds can expand to affect both superficial and deep tissues. Deep scarring can occur in the wake of such brown recluse spider bite symptoms, and skin grafting is sometimes utilized to cosmetically treat scarring.

Venom & Toxicity

Venom released by the brown recluse spider contains a complex collection of enzymes which can cause hemolysis, the rupturing of blood cells. The red blood cells walls rupture, and the cells’ contents are leaked, including the red, oxygen-bearing protein known as hemoglobin.

Can Bites be Deadly?

The brown recluse spider (Loxosceles reclusa) is rumored to be the one of the most poisonous house spiders in the United States. However, although the bite of a brown recluse in rare instances can prove damaging to tissue, a fatality from a brown recluse bite has never been verified. Scientific literature cites many other likely sources of supposed brown recluse bites, such as bacterial infections. If a bite is suspected or if there are any medical concerns, consult a medical professional.

Seek Medical Treatment

If a brown recluse bite is suspected, a medical professional should be consulted. Many cases of suspected recluse bite turn out to be a number of other medical conditions which cause similar side effects, including skin lesions. They are often misdiagnosed, even by medical professionals, as brown recluse spider bites. Possible other causes of skin lesions include bacterial infections, chemical burns or allergic reactions to medications.


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