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Brown Recluse Spider Bite – Part I

I’ve been pretty quiet the last two weeks, because on Monday, June 7th, I was bit by a brown recluse spider. It’s been a little over two weeks, and I still have a rather large wound (nearly 4″ by 4″) on the outside of my calf. I’ve spent most of the last two weeks doing just what absolutely needs to be done. I’ve decided to share the experience in two parts. This week, I’ll share what has been happening. Next week, I’ll share an update on how I’m healing and some valuables lessons I’ve learned from the experiences.

Warning…. If you’re uncomfortable with wound images, feel free to watch the video below, and don’t keep scrolling. I’ve included an image of what the bite looked like on day 2, day 6, day 7, and today (day 16).

Day 2

The brown recluse has very short fangs, so you generally don’t feel its bite until the venom starts destroying tissue. It makes it difficult to determine the exact time of the bite. In my case, I’m pretty sure the spider was in the leg of my jeans and bit me some time during the morning. I first noticed pain in the area around five in the evening as my husband and I were returning from feeding our horses.

When my husband first looked at it, he was convinced it was nothing, but I knew that bruising around a bite was rare. In every case, conventional medicine recommends icing 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off and elevating, which I did. I slept very little that night and called in sick to work the next day when I woke up to a much bigger bruise and much more pain.

Day 6

On the morning of the second day, we consulted two medical professionals. I was advised to continue icing and elevating. I was prescribed a topical antibiotic cream and a 10 days of doxycycline hyclate. I was advised to dress with a non-stick, breathable bandage, making sure I only used adhesive on two sides.

I iced, elevated, and dressed religiously, but the pain and bruising continued to progress. In the first few days, I was relieved that my bite looked so much better than the bites I saw online, but by day 6, I was increasingly concerned by the size and coloration of the bruising. The dark purple bruising indicated major tissue damage.

Day 7

I was also in unbelievable pain. I was taking 600 mg of acetaminophen every 4 hours, but the pain continuously radiated throughout my leg and was getting worse. By that morning, I was in a cold sweat with tears uncontrollably running down my face.

A good friend mentioned that she had been bitten years ago and didn’t even have a scar. Her story was very different from most of the stories I was hearing. I knew people who had muscle surgically removed, lost digits, etc. Her mother had used a brown recluse first aid kit. We had spent two days trying to find one online with no success. It was only after searching for “devonmation” that my husband found an alternative treatment plan using activated charcoal.

Day 16

We checked with the medical professionals we knew. The consensus was that it couldn’t hurt, so on the evening of day 6, we started treating every 4 hours with activated charcoal. By the next morning, there was a significant difference in the color of the bruising. The bruise was no longer dark purple. There were spots of black, but they weren’t from necrotic tissue; the spots were residual charcoal.

Between day 7 and day 14, the effected area shrank from 5″ by 9″ to 4″ by 4″. The pain went from a constant 8 with occasional spikes to 10 down to mild discomfort with pain around 2 if the wound was touched or I moved the wrong way. I went from taking 600mg every four hours to taking 400mg once a day before bed. I went from sleeping 30 minutes at a time to sleeping 4-5 hours at a time.

I am definitely on the mend, but the recovery is slow. I still can’t comfortably wear jeans or maintain any level of real activity. It still hurts like crazy to take a shower. I still have to keep my leg elevated most of the time. I can still only work at my desk with my leg elevated for a few hours a day. At the rate I’m healing, it will likely be another two weeks before I’m mostly back on my feet. It could be another week or two before it’s fully healed.

I’ll share an update next week. Please keep me in your prayers!


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