Brown recluse spiders are a highly poisonous spider that lives in a number of states. It can reside in the Midwest, to the southern states, as well as states as far north as Ohio. It can also live in Hawaii. They are generally less than 1 inch long; however, some may get larger if there is plenty of food nearby. Brown recluse spiders love to make their homes in closets and beds, sheds, and piles of rubbles. They do prefer the outdoors, since more food is available there. A brown recluse spider will have a violin shape on its back, and you can usually tell the difference between a brown recluse and other spider varieties.
Experiencing a Brown Recluse Spider Bite
Brown recluses are given a bad image. Almost everyone understands that these spiders can provide a nasty and highly toxic bite if messed with. If you happen to see a brown recluse on the wall, it isn’t going to lunge at you and attack your face. A dangerous brown recluse bite is actually very rare. These spiders are not aggressive and will only bite if they happen to be in your bedding or clothing. It is always important to shake your blankets or clothing if they have been in storage for a long period of time.
Out of all of the bites that occur, many are not necrotic bites. Necrosis occurs when the bite isn’t treated quickly. In many cases a brown recluse spider bite will feel like nothing, and the individual may not notice until it is too late. At first the bite will exhibit no serious signs. After a few hours pain and itching may occur. Vomiting, nausea, and fever are all common symptoms associated with a severe brown recluse spider bite. This is when it is time to seek medical care.
Unfortunately some individuals may let the bite worsen. Necrosis of the soft tissue begins to take place. A deep severe infection will develop, causing gangrene. After this happens the wound becomes difficult to heal and will require severe antibiotics and anti-venom to help heal the wound. The rotted tissue will begin to fall off in pieces, and individuals may be left with an enormous scar. In the worst of cases, the wound may become upwards of 10 inches in diameter. In very severe situations the brown recluse spider bites may cause necrosis straight to the bone.
Individuals that die from a spider bite are usually young children or the elderly. Adults that have good immune systems can survive a brown recluse bite, but may be ill for several weeks. Going untreated for a long period of time can lead to secondary infections and several other complications. It is very important to try and see a doctor or go to a hospital to seek help in the event of a brown recluse spider bite. The several options for treatments can be experimental, home remedies and well known treatments as well. The thing that most hospitals would need from the bite victim to help them determine what kind of spider bit them is to capture the spider, if possible and place it into a jar when seeking treatment. This way the spider can be positively identified and treatment can be hastened.
Treating a Brown Recluse Spider Bite
Treatment for these bites must be administered early on. If an individual is bitten they should immediately apply an ice pack as well as aloe vera. This will control initial pain and swelling temporarily. This is an important first step to ensure a healthful recovery. After doing the above, the individual should be rushed to the nearest hospital. A doctor will usually see someone experiencing a venomous bite immediately.
If no necrosis has occurred the patient will typically be administered an anti-venom. If used immediately anti-venom can help to some degree. Depending on the individual they may be completely fine after an anti-venom shot. The anti-venom is not always effective but it is a good attempt to stop damage from getting worse with the bite victim. Choosing anti-venom as a treatment option may not always be possible, especially if the hospital that you are rushed to does not have an anti-venom storage system in place because the bites are rare.
There are no solid treatments to help minimize or completely heal necrosis. Some treatments work exceptionally well for some individuals, and there is a big chance that no treatments will help with necrosis. Necrosis may never heal completely or leave extensive and noticeable scarring on bite victims. The big problem with the available treatments is that some people are unresponsive to the treatments of any kind.
The following treatments are used to varying degrees in some cases:
Hyperbaric Oxygen is usually given in the form of a special chamber or device. The pressure is increased to help the venom oxidize faster to prevent spreading of the condition.
Dapsone is a treatment often paired with other drugs to treat infections that are severe.
Antihistamines that are more powerful than over the counter varieties are usually used to treat itchiness, and swelling.
Antibiotics are used to minimize the onset infection and reduce the serious complications that go along with a gangrene infection resulting from a brown recluse bite.
Glucocorticoids are used to reduce inflammation. They are a special type of steroid that is used to reduce swelling and they are derived from glucose.
Vasodilators help widen the blood vessels. This type of treatment isn’t as effective as others for the treatment of a brown recluse spider bite.
Heparin is an anticoagulant filled with sulfates. It is used to help prevent the venom from causing coagulation or further necrosis.
Nitroglycerin is sometimes used to help stop the progressive spread of venom.
Electric shock may denature the venom in the body once bitten. This is less used than other treatments that are more reliable.
Curettage is used to remove the section that has experienced necrosis. This is usually done on smaller areas where removal of the tissue is actually beneficial.
Warnings Regarding Brown Recluse Spider Bites
In some instances these bites are usually misdiagnosed. This is a scary fact, because many patients undergo inappropriate treatment. There are actually several skin conditions that are more dangerous than brown recluse bite, and require immediate treatment. If you think you have a bite then it is best to ask for a very specific method of diagnosis. As a patient you are entitled to safe treatment.
Also be warned that while there are many treatments available for these bites, they do cause side effects. Many of the medications used to treat brown recluse spider bites are harsh and can lead to a number of side effects that are unpleasant. Children and the elderly are particularly at risk for receiving inappropriate treatments, and can actually die from a treatment administered without proper care.
There are many relatives to the brown recluse that may also bite individuals and produce similar symptoms. Always check to make sure what kind of poisonous spiders are in the area where you live. Occasionally there are reports of recluse bites in say, California, where these spiders do not live.