Most spiders are harmless to humans but about sixty varieties out of a pool of over 20,000 species are the exception to this rule. Of this subgroup the Hobo Spider, Yellow Sac Spider, Black Widow, and Brown Recluse are the most harmful. Further dividing the subgroup we find that only the Black Widow and the Brown Recluse can also carry disease and death.
The habitat of the Brown Recluse is the Southeastern and Midwestern United State. To date the reported fatalities from Brown Recluse bites are limited to children under eight years of age.
Brown Recluses will live in dry places like cupboards, woodpiles, old tires, sheds, verandas, barns, basements, attics, and more; making a web in cracks and crevices. You will only come into contact with Brown Recluse bites if the spider feels it is threatened and only then will it bite.
Even though the venom of the Brown Recluse is more toxic than a rattle snake it carries less disease. Brown Recluse bites do not contain high quantities of venom. The venom from Brown Recluse bites is still powerful enough to cause necrosis or tissue death. When the skin and blood cells break down, a condition called gangrene can set in therefore further rotting away the immediate skin around Brown Recluse bites. Left untreated, the victim can suffer from kidney failure, lapse in a coma, or die.
However, victims do not always notice Brown Recluse bites or consider them dangerous in the initial stages. They might feel a burning sensational, itching, fever, and nausea or muscle pain days after the Brown Recluse bites. The Brown Recluse bite marks may only start out slightly red and heal in a few days. Sometimes the Brown Recluse bites blister and turn bluish in color (beginning of necrosis). If you suspect you have been bitten by a Brown Recluse, you will need to seek immediate attention and if at all possible bring the spider with you to the hospital.
There are no specialized tests to identify Brown Recluse bites, but your doctor will take a history of the bite, time, place, etc. He will also order a CBC (complete blood count), urine tests, electrolytes test, and kidney function tests.
First Aid home care should never replace medical care which is of the utmost importance. But in the interim before the ambulance from your 911 call comes in or before you can get to the doctor on your own, you can do a few of these things:
Wash the wound with cool soapy water
Apply an ice pack to the wound to reduce swelling
Raise the wound site above the heart (if possible)
Stay still and take a pain tablet
Do not apply topical creams such as hydrocortisones and do not try to suck out the venom or cut it out, you can cause even more damage to your skin and body that way.
Your doctor will be responsible for administering a tetanus shot, prescribe an antihistamine any other pain killers. There are some controversial methods of care reserved for the most severe cases such as the use of dapsone and steroids.
Your doctor will make a follow up appointment for you to see how the Brown Recluse Bites are healing. In some cases hospitalization and or plastic surgery may be needed.