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Brown recluse, violin, or fiddleback (Loxosceles) spiders are about 0.5 in. (1.3 cm) long with a dark violin-shaped mark on the combined head and midsection (cephalothorax). They are found most often in the south-central part of the United States and live in hot, dry, abandoned areas, such as wood or rock piles.
See a picture of a brown recluse spider.
Brown recluse spider bites don't always hurt right away. In fact, you may not know that you have been bitten until other symptoms appear. Symptoms of a brown recluse spider bite include:
Some people have a severe, systemic (whole-body) reaction to brown recluse spider bites, including the rapid destruction of red blood cells and anemia (hemolytic anemia). Signs and symptoms include:
If you think you have been bitten by a brown recluse spider:
A brown recluse bite can be serious and may require immediate medical care. Call a doctor if:
A brown recluse spider bite is diagnosed through a physical examination and questions about the bite. You should be prepared to describe the spider, where and when the bite took place, and what you were doing at the time. (If you are able to safely capture and transport the spider, bring it with you to show your doctor.) Your doctor will ask what your main symptoms are, when they began, and how they have developed, progressed, or changed since the bite.
Medicine to counteract brown recluse spider venom is not available in the United States or Canada. Treatment depends on how severe the bite is. For bites that:
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy may also be used for tissue damage from a spider bite.
Medicines that may be used include:
Current as of: June 4, 2014
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
To learn more, visit Healthwise.org
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