Whenever the holidays roll around, I notice that many patients start coming in with new allergic and irritant reactions as well as what looks like bug bites. Sounds puzzling, right? Not when I realized what the common thread linking them was: they had all recently started pulling out their Christmas decorations that had been stored away for the year… Which is where brown recluse spiders love to hide!
These pests love dark, dry and quiet places such as closets and boxes, and since they are native in the midwest and southeast, we definitely all have some of them lingering around. So while you’re rummaging through your box of ornaments and decorations, these little guys will bite as soon as they are pressed close to your skin. You may not feel the bite at all, or the pain could feel like a bee sting and in some cases, severe reactions include flu symptoms and swelling – you will feel them soon into the first four hours after the bite.
If you think you’ve been bitten, try to collect and identify the spider and pop into your doctor’s office as soon as possible. Even though there is no specific medicine to treat these bites, applying ice to the area and taking a breather to rest will help. If you react more severely, your doctor will be able to prescribe the necessary antibiotics, pain medication or anti-inflammatory treatment.
I have noticed that while most bites are usually mild, severe reactions do happen with both young and elderly patients so it’s best to keep anyone in your family in those age groups away from the decorations boxes while you’re unpacking them. Be mindful and careful while you’re getting ready for the holidays this year – I know I will!