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Year : 1991  |  Volume : 57  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 50

Spider bites - Cutaneous loxocelism

Correspondence Address:
T P Thankappan

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How to cite this article:
Thankappan T P, Sulochana G, Naik P, Sunny B. Spider bites - Cutaneous loxocelism. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 1991;57:50

How to cite this URL:
Thankappan T P, Sulochana G, Naik P, Sunny B. Spider bites - Cutaneous loxocelism. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol [serial online] 1991 [cited 2020 Sep 24];57:50. Available from:

Spider bites are rarely of medical signifi­cance, but because of strongly held prejudices, myths from far places, spiders are universally feared and maligned. To our knowledge, the only report of cutaneous Loxocelism from India is by Papali C et al.[1] Here we are reporting two cases of spider bites possibly due to Loxocelus Reclusa (Brown recluse spider).

Case 1

A 52 years old male labourer while sleep­ing in hilly area, felt something crawling over his neck and sudden stinging pain over the area. He noticed a spider. On next day he found a blackish discolouration and severe pain which increased covering half of the left side of neck. Examination of the area revealed a black eschar on the left side of neck measuring 7 x 5 cms, with oedema and erythema around the lesion. No local lymphadenopathy or any sys­temic abnormality was detected. Skin biopsy showed marked necrosis of the epidermis and dermis with ulceration and inflammatory infiltrate containing mainly polymorphs. The black eschar was surgically removed and he was put on short course of steroids, dapsone and erythromycin. The ulcer slowly healed within a period of 2 weeks.

Case 2

A 34 years old male bank employee, while removing cowdung from the cowshed felt a crawling sensation over the shoulder. He hit the area with the soiled hand and a small spider fell to the floor which he brought with him and was identified as brown recluse spider. Next day he noticed erythema, oedema and swell­ing of the area which ulcerated subsequently. Pus culture from the ulcer yielded staphylo­coccus aureus sensitive to cloxacillin and ciprofloxacin. Ciprofloxacin produced some im­provement however the addition of dapsone and steroids enhanced healing of the lesions. The history, clinical presentation and

investigation results were typical of cutaneous loxocelism. Loxocelism is of two types, cutane­ous and viscerocutaneous. Cutaneous type is the commener. Loxocelus bites only when forced into contact with the skin.[2],[3],[4] Our patients did not develop any systemic signs since the outcome of a spider bite depends on the age, size and other host factors.[5] Spiders are not uncommon in India but the paucity of spider bites reports might be due to lack of awareness of spider bites as a cause of acute necrotic ulcerations and it should be suspected as a differential diagnosis in appropriate cases.

  References Top

1.Papali C, Gangadharan C, Koshy et al : spider bite - A case of cutaneous loxocelism, Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 1983; 49 : 270-274.  Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Hufford DC : The Brown Recluse spider and ne­crotic arachnidism, J Arkansas Med Soc, 1977, 74 126-127.  Back to cited text no. 2    
3.Wasserman GS and Siegel C : Loxocelism (Brown recluse spider bites) A review of literature, Clin Toxicol 1979; 14 : 353- 358.  Back to cited text no. 3    
4.Gorham JR : The brown recluse spider, Loxocelus reclusa and necrotic spider bite, J Environ Health 1968; 31 : 145-149.  Back to cited text no. 4    
5.Wong RC, Hughs SE and Voorhees JJ : Spider bites, Arch Dermatol. 1987; 123 : 98-104.  Back to cited text no. 5    


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