Brown recluse, violin, or fiddleback (Loxosceles), spiders are about
0.5in 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.
What should I do if a brown recluse spider bites me?
If you think you have been bitten by a brown recluse spider:
Remain calm. Too much excitement or movement
will increase the flow of venom into the blood.
Apply a cool, wet
cloth to the bite or cover the bite with a cloth and apply an ice bag to the
Do not apply a tourniquet. It may cause more harm than
Try to positively identify the spider or catch it to
confirm its type.
A brown recluse bite can be serious and may require medical care.
Call your doctor immediately if:
You have severe symptoms throughout your
An open sore and black, dead tissue (necrosis)
How is a brown recluse spider bite diagnosed?
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
How is it treated?
Medicine to counteract brown recluse spider venom is not available
in the United States or Canada. Treatment depends on how severe the bite
For bites that do not develop open sores,
treatment includes applying a cold compress, elevating the bite area, and
avoiding moving the bite area.
If you develop an open sore (ulcer) and dead skin (necrosis),
treatment includes removing the dead skin from the sore. This may involve
follow-up and replacing the dead skin with new skin (skin grafts).