Therapy of brown spider envenomation: a controlled trial of hyperbaric oxygen, dapsone, and cyproheptadine

Ann Emerg Med. 1995 Mar;25(3):363-8. doi: 10.1016/s0196-0644(95)70296-2.


Study objective: To determine whether hyperbaric oxygen (HBO), dapsone, or cyproheptadine decreases the severity of skin lesions resulting from experimental Loxosceles envenomation.

Design: Randomized, blinded, controlled study.

Setting: Animal care facility.

Interventions: We used New Zealand white rabbits. All groups received 20 micrograms of pooled L deserta venom intradermally. Our control group received 4 ml of a 5% ethanol solution by oral gavage every 12 hours for 4 days. The HBO group received hyperbaric oxygen at 2.5 ATA for 65 minutes every 12 hours for 2 days, plus 5% ethanol solution for 4 days. The dapsone group received dapsone 1.1 mg/kg in 5% ethanol by gavage every 12 hours for 4 days. The cyproheptadine group received cyproheptadine .125 mg/kg in 5% ethanol by gavage every 12 hours for 4 days.

Results: Total lesion size and ulcer size were followed for 10 days. The lesions were then excised, examined microscopically, and ranked by the severity of the histopathology. The groups did not differ significantly with respect to lesion size, ulcer size, or histopathologic ranking.

Conclusion: Given the negative result in this study with adequate power to detect meaningful treatment benefits, we cannot recommend hyperbaric oxygen, dapsone, or cyproheptadine in the treatment of Loxosceles envenomation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cyproheptadine / therapeutic use*
  • Dapsone / therapeutic use*
  • Hyperbaric Oxygenation*
  • Rabbits
  • Random Allocation
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Spider Bites / drug therapy
  • Spider Bites / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Cyproheptadine
  • Dapsone