All About Necrotizing Fasciitis

All About Necrotizing Fasciitis

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By Dr. Poonam Tiwari , Dermatology

Also described as condition of ‘flesh-eating bacteria’, necrotizing fasciitis is an infection which is rare and can prove to be fatal if it is not treated on time. In case of infection, it is capable of spreading quickly and aggressively as well as causing the death of tissues at the site of infection.

Usually, the bacteria which cause necrotizing fasciitis enter the body after injury or surgery. Additionally, they can enter through insect bites, abrasions and minor cuts. Once the person is infected, rapid destruction of the skin, muscle and fat tissues takes place.

Cause-

The primary cause of necrotizing fasciitis is an infection by group A Streptococcus bacteria (GAS). This bacterium is also responsible for causing strep throat. The infection occurs when the bacterium infects the superficial fascia which is a connective tissue layer located below the skin.

Immediate symptoms of the infection are-

  1. Abnormal pain at the site of abrasion or cuts.
  2. Flu-like symptoms such as nausea, fever, diarrhea, weakness, general malaise and dizziness.
  3. Intense levels of thirst resulting from dehydration.

The symptoms tend to worsen with time if it is not treated. These will then include:

  1. Swelling accompanied by purple rashes.
  2. Large, purple-coloured marks that change into blisters with fluid which is dark and foul-smelling.
  3. Development of gangrene i.e. tissue death leads to peeling, discoloration as well as flakiness.

Some of the critical symptoms occur within a week of infection and can include:

  1. Severe drop in blood pressure
  2. Unconsciousness

The Treatments-

Patients suffering from an infection of Necrotizing Fasciitis undergo treatment based on the severity and stage of the disease.

The various forms of treatment include:

  1. Intravenous (through the veins) Antibiotic therapy
  2. Amputations of affected limbs
  3. Blood transfusions
  4. Cardiac Monitoring
  5. Breathing aids
  6. Removal of damaged or dead tissue using surgery
  7. Intravenous immunoglobulin- This is a therapy which uses antibodies to support the ability of the body to resist infections.