Identifying a Brown Recluse Bite

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Brown Recluse Spider Compared to a U.S. Penny
Brown Recluse Spider Compared to a U.S. Penny

The idea of being bitten by a brown recluse spider frightens many people. The small spider, located mainly in the southern Midwest and in the South, has a bite that is venomous and capable of causing skin and tissue to necrotize. In severe cases, limbs may need to be amputated and a person can die. Bites from these spiders, however, are very rare and it is important to know the identifying characteristics if you live in or are visiting an area that recluse spiders are known to inhabit.

Small Percentages

Don't freak out just because you have a welt that wasn't there before and you were in an area that recluse spiders occupy. According to the University of California, Riverside's entomology department, recluse spiders rarely bite people and, out of those rare bites, 90 percent of them don't require medical attention. Most recluse spiders avoid contact with other creatures--hence the name--and bites normally only occur in accidental situations, like a person rolling over onto one in bed, a spider being trapped between clothing and skin, or someone putting his foot into a shoe where a recluse is hiding.

Take a Look and Wait

If you've been bitten and you weren't able to find the spider that did it, which is the easiest way to discover if it was a recluse, then examine the bite. Spider bites leave two separate fang marks on the skin. The surrounding skin will turn red in color and, according to Brown-Recluse.com, the fang marks will turn black. If there is only one puncture mark, then the bite was caused by an insect, like a mosquito or horse fly, and not a spider. Wait to see if pain starts at the point of the bite. Most recluse bites take 10 minutes to 1 hour to begin to sting. If the sting is worse than a bee sting would feel, then see a doctor as you may be having an allergic reaction to the bite.

Physical Symptoms

In the 10 percent that require medical attention, the venomous bite from a brown recluse spider will present itself in physical symptoms. Dizziness, nausea, muscle pain and the chills, according to Trails.com, are indications of your body reacting to such a bite. If you do not have such feelings, but note that the bite begins to blister and turn into a large, deep and spreading ulcer, seek the advice of a doctor immediately. Small blisters and small ulcers are common and, according to Trails.com, are no cause for concern.

Warnings

The effects of spider bites, especially from recluse spiders, vary greatly from individual to individual. If you believe you have been bitten by a recluse spider and are having a reaction, seek the advice of a doctor. Children, the elderly and the ill are more sensitive to a recluse bite that requires medical attention.

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