We’ve all seen the news and read the tragic stories about people who contracted necrotizing fasciitis and ending up losing a limb, organs, or even their lives. Those stories, though they are sad and frightening for the rest of us, are extreme cases.
Necrotizing fasciitis does not always result in death or amputation. When proper medical treatment is received early on, it can help prevent the infection from spreading and causing severe injury.
What Is Necrotizing Fasciitis?
The definition of necrotizing is “causing the death of tissues.”
Necrotizing fasciitis is a serious bacterial skin infection that spreads quickly through the body and kills the soft tissue. Necrotizing fasciitis is most commonly contracted by the bacteria entering the body through a cut, scrape or open wound.
Most cases occur randomly, and it is rarely spread between people.
- Necrotizing fasciitis can become deadly very quickly.
- It is very important to get the proper diagnosis, immediate antibiotic treatment, and any surgery necessary to stop the progression of the infection.
How Will You Know If It Is Necrotizing Fasciitis ?
Symptoms of necrotizing fasciitis often start within a few hours after an injury.
Some people experience pain or soreness, and there may be areas of swelling or redness that rapidly spread. In some cases, people develop blisters or ulcers on the skin. The pain can be severe, and may seem excessive for a minor injury. Over time, additional symptoms can develop, including:
If you have these symptoms after an injury, you need to see a doctor immediately.
Who Can Get Necrotizing Fasciitis?
The chance of getting necrotizing fasciitis is very low if you have a healthy immune system, and practice good hygiene and proper wound care.
Most of the people who contract necrotizing fasciitis have pre-existing health conditions that have affected their body’s ability to fight infection. Some of these conditions include:
- Kidney disease
- Chronic health conditions that weaken the body’s immune system
What Causes Necrotizing Fasciitis?
Necrotizing fasciitis can be caused by several types of bacteria, including:
- Group A Streptococcus (strep)
- Staphylococcus aureus
- Clostridium,Escherichia coli
- Aeromonas hydrophila
Group A strep infections are usually mild and easily treated, but in necrotizing fasciitis, bacteria spread rapidly and infect the tissues that surround muscles, fat, nerves, and blood vessels.
The bacteria create toxins that infect tissue and cause it to die. When this happens, the infection is very serious, and can lead to amputation or death.
Do Not Delay Medical Treatment
The best defense against this disease is strong intravenous (I.V.) antibiotics.
If toxins have damaged the soft tissue, it will reduce blood flow and make it difficult for the antibiotics to reach the infected areas. In these cases doctors will often use surgery to remove dead tissue and stop the infection from spreading further.
How You Can Prevent A Bacterial Skin Infection:
- Get prompt medical care for any wounds, even minor cuts or scrapes.
- Keep open wounds covered with clean, dry bandages.
- If you have an open wound, avoid pools, hot tubs, rivers, oceans and lakes.
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer.