Spider bites in children: Brown recluse spider

The brown recluse spider is an unassuming small-sized spider that is capable of delivering potent venom that can cause serious conditions to humans. Children who often visit places where these spiders stay might end up bitten. The brown recluse spider bites can cause the skin and underlying tissues to die which results to a necrotic wound that usually takes weeks to fully heal. The spider bite can leave behind evident scarring and the risk for death is high for small children.

Close look on the brown recluse spider

The brown recluse spider can grow up to an inch long with 8 elongated legs and the distinct violin-shaped pattern on its back. Due to this marking, it is also called as “violin” or “fiddle-back” spider.

The spider habitually hides in wait for prey in dark and secluded areas, often around yards or houses. Even though not characteristically aggressive, the brown recluse spider can bite if threatened. Most cases of spider bites typically occur when the spider is unintentionally pressed against the skin.

What are the risks?

Brown recluse spider

If a child is suspected to be bitten by a brown recluse spider, a doctor should be consulted right away.

Children who play outdoors face a higher risk than the adults to end up with spider bites. The cases of deaths linked to the brown recluse spider bites are rare, but children face an increased risk for dying than the adults.

Always bear in mind that the bites of these spiders can result to a deep and necrotic wound that takes a longer time to fully heal.

What are the signs and symptoms?

The brown recluse spider bites are not quite evident and not readily noticeable by children. The child might later on complain of a stinging sensation that is later on followed by intense pain.

Within the initial 24 hours, the bite site changes from a small-sized white blister to an elevated, ulcerated sore that is hard to the touch. The appearance is dry with a bluish center that is surrounded by a white ring and irregular edges that are red in appearance. As the damage progresses, the wound might grow up to 1-6 inches in diameter. The dead tissue later on sloughs off from the lesion which reveals the underlying tissue.

Immediate first aid for brown recluse spider bites

If a child is suspected to be bitten by a brown recluse spider, a doctor should be consulted right away. If possible, capture the spider and securely bring it to the doctor.

Cleanse the bite site using soap and water then dab an antibacterial cream and an ice pack to minimize the pain and swelling. In case the bite is on the leg or arm, it should be raised and apply a secure bandage around it above the bite site to limit the flow of blood but not completely cut it off.

Medical treatment for brown recluse spider bites

At the present, there is no antivenin available for brown recluse spider bites. If the child is over 2 years old, he/she can be given non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen for the pain.

In some cases, the doctor might administer high doses of cortisone-like hormones to minimize the risk of systemic reactions. Ongoing surgery might be required to eliminate dead tissues from the wound to promote the healing process.


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