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What Does a Brown Recluse Spider Look Like and What Should I Do if I’m Bitten?

OakleyOriginals/Flickr

Before starting your spring cleaning this year, take a look at these pictures of the brown recluse spider and remember what it looks like. Louisiana is one of the few states where the brown recluse calls home.

The brown recluse spider is one of the most dangerous spiders living here in the US. Though you can die from its bite, that’s quite uncommon. The bite frequently is not felt initially and may not be immediately painful, but it can be serious. Typically, they will bite when pressed against the skin, often from putting on clothes they’re hiding in.

You may be digging around, doing yard work and putting your hands in dark places where where it is hard to see. But be careful — the brown recluse loves those spots.

The brown recluse spider likes dark places like woodpiles and vents in your house, closets, garages — even the attic and in storage sheds. They also favor cardboard because it resembles their natural habit: rotting tree bark. If you need to go into your attic, turn on the light and wait at least 30 minutes before putting your hands where you can’t see.

Other names for this dangerous spider are loxosceles reclusa, fiddleback spider, brown fiddler, or violin spider.

Eje Gustafsson/Flickr

How to Avoid Getting Bitten

  • Wear gloves if you are working outside in the yard in big piles of logs or leaves.
  • Shake out blankets and clothing that have been stored in the attic or the basement, or if they have been in a closet for a long period of time.
  • If you decide to wear shoes that have not been worn for a long tim, shake them out before putting them on.

What to Do if Bitten

Seek medical attention from a doctor or hospital as soon as possible because the first few hours are crucial.

If you can’t get medical help right away

  • Cover the bitten area with an antibacterial gel such as Neosporin.
  • Wrap with Saran Wrap if the location allows you to do so, if not cover the area with a band aid or gauze.
  • Take Motrin or another Non Steroid Anti Inflammatory.
  • Put an icepack on it for 20 minutes and repeat every hour.
  • DO NOT take a hot bath or allow any heat on the area because this will make the venom spread more rapidly.
  • Drink a lot of water to help flush out the poison from your body.

You will still need to see a doctor because the venom kills cells and your skin tissue will begin to die from necrosis. A doctor will remove the dead skin and prescribe antibiotics to help prevent infection.

digypho/Flickr

Get the Osha Fact Sheet

The Spider under the Toilet Seat Hoax (Arachnius gluteus)

Check this map to see if you live in an area of the US where the brown recluse lives and breeds

Watch this short video and see how the brown recluse hide in clothing

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