By Anders Nielsen, Ph.d.
Disclaimer: The images of scars from bites brought here have not been confirmed.
Although the brown recluse spider has a reputation of being a rather docile spider, its bite is nothing to joke about. The reason why is it considered rather docile is that it has been shown that people have lived together with it for years without a single bite.
The human body has a tremendous ability to repair tissue that has been compromised. In this case, a condition called loxoscelism has caused a lot of tissue damage around the wound.
The patient in the photo below will have to go through a long healing period. How long it takes depends on his age and how effective his body is at replacing the dead skin cells with new ones.
Wounds like these can take up to two years to heal completely.
Luckily, relatively mild damage is seen in many cases with bites in adults. However, a search in the literature for the words: "brown recluse and bite" reveals that 65 percent of all children must have surgery for their wounds in order to recover. As their skin is thinner, they are much more likely to be exposed to loxoscelism than adults.
The lesson from all of this is that even though the danger imposed by brown recluse spiders is overestimated, one must take care to avoid close encounters.
The article is: Complications and Outcomes of Brown Recluse Spider Bites in Children (Hubbard J & James L) in 2011.
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