How to Identify a Brown Recluse Bite

How to Identify a Brown Recluse Bite
Because so many spider bites look the same, it is difficult to tell the difference between a brown recluse spider bite and a bite from another spider. Usually, a person is not aware of being bitten by a spider. Of course, if you see a brown recluse spider biting you, then you can be sure that you have indeed been bitten by a brown recluse. Otherwise, the best approach to identifying a brown recluse spider bite is to keep an eye on the development of the bite.

Most brown recluse bites are not serious. A study conducted at a southeastern U.S. university hospital found that the majority of brown recluse bites did not cause serious symptoms or long-lasting effects.


Difficulty: Challenging

Step 1
Look at the bite. At the beginning, a brown recluse spider bite appears as a small, white blister that is surrounded by a red ring. There may be a white ring surrounding the red ring. A few hours after the bite, the swollen red part of the skin feels hard.
Step 2
Determine if the spider bite is causing more pain than a normal spider bite would. Though not all brown recluse bites cause pain, many do. Pain symptoms usually develop about 10 minutes after the bite. Symptoms of pain can range from a slight to severe sting. If severe pain is present, see a doctor, because you may be having a reaction to the brown recluse spider's venom.
Step 3
Keep an eye on a bite that you suspect may be from a brown recluse spider. In some people, the bite heals quickly, in others, the bite continues to get worse. If it is a brown recluse spider bite, the red area may continue to spread. Spreading of the red area is not necessarily a cause for concern, but it does warrant that you continue to keep an eye on the bite to watch for further symptoms.
Step 4
Evaluate how you are feeling. People who have a reaction to the venom of a brown recluse may feel dizzy, nauseous or have muscle pain or the chills. These symptoms usually appear one to two days after the bite. If you have any of these symptoms, seek treatment from a doctor.
Step 5
Watch the bite for signs of infection and skin tissue death. If the skin turns black, the skin appears to be wasting away or if the blister turns into a large deep ulcer, go to a doctor. Some brown recluse bites cause necrosis (tissue death). Left untreated, necrosis is serious. In rare instances, tissue death is severe and can result in the loss of a large amount of skin and underlying tissues. Note: It is normal for the blister to pop and a small ulcer to form in its place. It is only if the ulcer is large, deep or spreading that there is a cause for concern. Also, an ulcer that will not heal is a cause for concern.

Tips & Warnings

Medical treatment for a brown recluse spider is antibiotics. In cases of serious bites where the bite does not heal and tissue death is spreading, surgery is performed.
Because spider bites and symptoms of spider bites can vary greatly, this article should not be considered an all inclusive list of possible outcomes. If you suspect that you have been bitten by a brown recluse spider, call a doctor to seek advice.

Article Written By Rose Kivi

Rose Kivi has been a writer for more than 10 years. She has a background in the nursing field, wildlife rehabilitation and habitat conservation. Kivi has authored educational textbooks, patient health care pamphlets, animal husbandry guides, outdoor survival manuals and was a contributing writer for two books in the Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Series.

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