Danger of fire ants

Spider bites: Dealing with brown recluse spiders

Fact Checked

The venom of brown recluse spiders is considered dangerous. Luckily, the damage it can cause is minimal since small amounts are injected into its victims. Remember that the venom of the spider is highly toxic to the cells and tissues.


The bites of brown recluse spiders usually go unnoticed initially since they are painless. Occasionally, there is some burning sensation felt that is the same as a bee sting at the time of the bite and a small-sized blister develops.

The symptoms typically develop 2-8 hours after a bite. Always bear in mind that most bites of brown recluse spiders cause minimal tissue damage. In most cases, these symptoms can occur:

Brown recluse spiders
Occasionally, there is some burning sensation felt that is the same as a bee sting at the time of the bite and a small-sized blister develops.
  • Intense pain at the bite site after 4 hours
  • Fever
  • Intense itchiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle pain

Primarily, the bite site appears slightly red and there are fang marks if closely checked. In most cases, the bite site becomes firm and heal with minimal scarring over the next few days or weeks.

In some instances, the local reaction can be severe with erythema and blistering, oftentimes resulting to a bluish discoloration and progressing to a necrotic lesion and scarring.

What should I do?

Once an individual is bitten by a brown recluse spider, there are home measures that can be done before the individual is taken to the nearest healthcare facility for proper treatment.

  • Apply an ice pack to lessen the pain and swelling.
  • Raise the affected area if possible above the level of the heart.
  • Cleanse the area thoroughly using mild soap and cool water
  • The individual should avoid any strenuous activity since this allows the venom to spread.
  • Provide pain medications such as acetaminophen for relief.


After an initial assessment, the doctor will provide the following treatment options:

  • Tetanus shots
  • Pain medications
  • Antibiotics if indications of infection are present
  • Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine for relief from the itchiness

The individual requires follow-up appointments with a doctor since most wounds from brown recluse spiders should be checked daily at least 3-4 days. The necrotic lesions require close follow-up. In some cases, the doctor might remove the dead tissue in the necrotic areas to minimize the risk for developing secondary bacterial infections.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on bites from brown recluse spiders is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage wounds from brown recluse spider bites by taking a standard first aid course with Mississauga First Aid.

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