Brown recluse spider bites are extremely serious and potentially fatal. It’s common to experience severe pain and a very high fever within a few hours of the bite. Go to the emergency room immediately.
Brown recluse spiders generally keep to themselves, but when they do happen to strike out their bite can be very dangerous, requiring intensive treatment and sometimes surgery.
Often a person does not realize he has been bitten by a brown recluse until he has a painful or ulcerating bite and a fever spikes. The skin at the site of the bite begins to necrotize and there can be accompanying infection. Fever, malaise, nausea and swelling may accompany the bite. Treatments can include steroids, pain medications, antibiotics, surgery to remove dead tissue, and even skin grafts.
The earlier treatment begins, the better. Medical treatment will be needed for a significant reaction to the bite and especially when there is fever, red streaks, severe pain, multiple bites, or a person is in a weaker state (very young, elderly, immune compromised.)
Topical treatments and internal remedies can help strengthen the immune system, reduce pain and inflammation, draw out infection and heal the skin at the site of the bite.
Epsom Salt Baths
Epsom salt baths can be used 1-4 times daily to relieve pain and draw out infection. For a whole bathtub, use warm water with 2 cups of Epsom Salt. For a more local bath (foot bath, hand soak) use ¼ cup in a gallon of warm water.
A whole body soak is advantageous even if you can only need to soak one small area. Your body absorbs the magnesium, sulfur and oxygen in the Epsom Salt and each of these help your body to heal well and relieve pain.
It is very important to use topical poultices at the site of the bite. A poultice will help to draw out infection over the course of several hours. Ideally you will put a fresh poultice every 2-6 hours. You can leave the poultices off for a couple of hours before replacing the poultice to allow the skin some time to breathe, but you may find that the poultices are so helpful to pain that you don’t mind using them all of the time.
One of the best poultices you can use is a combination of clay, activated charcoal and ground flax seed.
- 3 Tablespoons activated charcoal
- 3 Tablespoons ground flax seed
- 6 Tablespoons bentonite clay (or French Green clay)
- 1 ¼ cup water
1. Mix the poultice ingredients in a plastic cup or bowl with a plastic spoon. (Do not use metal with clay.)
2. Allow the mixture to sit while you prepare cloths for the poultices. Pieces of old clean sheet or sturdy white paper towels will work.
If the poultice mixture is too thick, add more water. (You want the end result to be about the consistency of jelly.)
3. Spread a thick layer (1/8 – ¼ inch thick) of the mixture into the center of each cloth. You want the poultice to cover several inches past the bite, or at least an inch past any swelling or redness, so don’t hesitate to make large poultices.
4. Fold the cloth or towel back over the center. It will be as if you are making a large closed envelope for the poultice mixture. The poultice mixture will not actually touch the skin, but will absorb poison through the piece of towel.
5. Place one poultice over the site of the bite. Cover the poultice with a piece of plastic wrap to keep the moisture in. The poultice will not work if it dries out. Finally, use an ace bandage or cohesive tape to attach the poultice to your skin. It is best to not use adhesive (sticky) tape as they often cause damage to skin at a time when you are trying to keep skin intact. Broken skin even near the bite site can leave you at risk for infection.
The layers will be as follows: skin, cloth, poultice mixture, cloth, plastic wrap, ace bandage.
Your body needs vitamin C for skin repair and to strengthen your immune system. You will be surprise how much vitamin C your body will need when fighting the infection and necrosis. Use the sodium ascorbate form. For detailed information on proper dosing of vitamin C, see this page.
Turmeric helps to control pain, fights infection, and reduces inflammation. Turmeric will also help to prevent secondary staph infections and cellulitis, which are not uncommon when you are dealing with any health issue in which there is broken skin and an overtaxed immune system.
½ teaspoon of turmeric can be added to 3 ounces of milk or yogurt with a pinch of black pepper and taken 4 times a day. Alternately, take 2 capsules of turmeric 4 times a day.
It is easier to keep inflammation from happening sometimes than to reduce it once it is present. Benadryl, taken according to package directions can help your body not to overreact to the bite and help with swelling. It may also help you sleep if you are uncomfortable from the bite. Do not use Benadryl if you have a long drive or use heavy equipment.
Over the Counter Pain Relief
You can use acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen if you need additional pain relief for your bite.
Between poultices you can apply essential oils to help fight infection.
Lavender essential oil can be used straight to help with pain.
Oregano oil, diluted in coconut oil can also be used to fight infection. The coconut oil also has infection fighting properties.
Honey is a wonderful wound healer. If you have a crater at the site of the bite you can use honey in the crater to promote healing and fight infection. This can also be used in conjunction with a poultice.
- Give your body plenty of high quality nutrients to fight infection, support the immune system, and repair the damaged tissue.
- Use whole foods and not processed foods. Drink plenty of water to help the body flush out toxins. You can add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to a tall glass of water twice daily to support healing.
- Avoid sugar. Sugar depresses the immune system.
- Probiotic foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and sauerkraut can facilitate healing.
- Bone broths contains nutrients that promote skin repair.
It can take weeks or months for a brown recluse bite to completely heal.
If you are being faithful to the protocol and find you are getting worse and not better, you likely need additional medical treatment.
As your bite begins to heal you can reduce the frequency of your poultice applications, baths and internal remedies, as long as doing so does not slow your healing process. Continue the natural remedies as long as any symptoms are present and until the skin is completely healed. During the healing process, the bite may drain pus and infection depending on how long the bite festered before treatment began.
Have you used natural remedies to heal a brown recluse bite? Please send us some feedback!