A bite from a brown recluse spider is typically not life-threatening. Very rarely, a bite can be severe enough to cause a large ulceration and tissue necrosis that can take some time to heal, and during this time the victim is at risk of infection. In the worst case, a brown recluse bite can cause death, with the vast majority occurring in cases involving children, elderly, and people who have an immune system deficiency.
Are Brown Recluse Bites Common?
One of the most prominent problems regarding brown recluse bites is that they are frequently diagnosed. These spiders are timid creatures that prefer to be left alone, and would only bite someone if they felt threatened or antagonized. People rarely notice that they have been bitten by a spider, and doctors have accidentally misdiagnosed skin lesions as a brown recluse bite, even if it is from something else entirely. For instance, on various occasions patients who have experienced painful ulcerations on their skin were diagnosed as having been bit by a brown recluse, but the true condition was actually staphylococcus infection.
In the rare occasions that a spider does bite, the victim can experience a sharp pain where the bite wound is. A white blister may begin to appear, which eventually fades into a red dot that will heal on its own in some days or weeks. The patient may experience symptoms like fever and nausea until the body processes the spider venom. For the most part, the only treatment necessary is some ice on the wound and time for the patient to recover.
If the spider injects a high dose of venom, and the patient is allergic, brown recluse bites can cause tissue necrosis, which is when the tissue around the bite slowly rots and sloughs off. This causes an exposed ulcer to develop, which is not only painful but extremely unsightly. So long as the ulcer is kept dry and clean, it should heal normally within six to eight weeks. Some skin ulcerations might require further medical treatment, like medications to control infections or skin grafts. In sensitive patients, venom sensitivity can potentially cause death.
What to Do if Bitten
Fortunately, one should be aware that brown recluse bites are quite uncommon. This spider lives mostly in the southern states of America, and as mentioned earlier, they are shy little creatures. Even when discovered, the rarely bite unless they feel they are in danger. Those who develop skin lesions or ulcerations which they believe is due to a spider or insect bite should go to a hospital quickly. If the bite wound begins to worsen, or they experience symptoms of infection and other such discomforts, they should mention to their doctors that it may be a spider bite. If a condition is improperly diagnosed, there will be a delay in receiving the proper treatment, and that can mean life or death in extreme cases.