Brown Recluse Spider Bite in a 42-Year-Old Woman

September 14, 2005
Navin M. Amin, MD

,
Charles E. Crutchfield III, MD

A 42-year-old woman was hospitalized with an increasingly painful, ulcerated swelling of the right lateral thigh. The patient reported that while cleaning out her attic, she suddenly experienced an excruciating burning sensation in her thigh. Immediately, she rubbed the area with ice, which provided partial relief. An ulcer developed 24 hours later and began to enlarge.

A 42-year-old woman was hospitalized with an increasingly painful, ulcerated swelling of the right lateral thigh (A).

The patient reported that while cleaning out her attic, she suddenly experienced an excruciating burning sensation in her thigh. Immediately, she rubbed the area with ice, which provided partial relief. An ulcer developed 24 hours later and began to enlarge.

A culture of tissue from the area did not reveal any pathogens. A brown recluse spider bite was suspected.

Brown recluse spiders are found predominately in the Southeast and Midwest. These spiders have three pairs of eyes and a violin-shaped marking on the cephalothorax (B). Generally, they are not aggressive but will bite when disturbed.

After the area was debrided, the patient underwent 1 week of whirlpool therapy and was given analgesics. Subsequently, this woman had a successful skin graft at the site of the bite.