Brown recluse spider

Brown recluse, violin, fiddleback, or fiddler (Loxosceles) spiders are found in southern North America and in South America; they live in hot, dark, covered areas, such as wood or rock piles. These poisonous brown spiders are about 0.5 in. (1.27 cm) long with a dark violin-shaped mark on the combined head and midsection (cephalothorax) with long skinny legs. They have 6 eyes grouped in 3 pairs rather than 8 eyes like other spiders.

Symptoms of a brown recluse spider bite include:

  • Reddened skin that may be followed by a blister that forms at the bite site.
  • Mild to intense pain and itching for 2 to 8 hours following the bite.
  • An open sore (ulcer) with a breakdown of tissue (necrosis) that develops a week or more following the bite. This may take months to heal.

Other symptoms that may begin 1 to 2 days after a bite include:

  • Fever and chills.
  • Skin rash all over the body with many tiny, flat purple and red spots.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Joint pain.

A doctor should be called immediately when a person is bitten by a brown recluse spider.

Last Updated: January 26, 2010

Author: Jan Nissl, RN, BS

Medical Review: Martin Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Sean P. Bush - Emergency Medicine, Envenomation Specialist & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine

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