Necrotizing fasciitis is an infection brought about by bacteria. This bacterium can destroy fat, skin and tissues that wrap the muscles in a short period. The condition is oftentimes known as flesh-eating bacteria.
The condition is rare but life-threatening since some cases are fatal. Many individuals who acquire necrotizing fasciitis are in good health before developing the infection. The risk for getting the infection is higher among:
- Those who have weakened immune systems
- Individuals with chronic health issues such as cancer, diabetes and kidney or liver disease
- Those who have cuts in the skin including surgical wounds
- Those who use steroid medications that lower down the resistance of the body to infection
What are the causes?
Necrotizing fasciitis is brought about by various forms of bacteria. Some of these also trigger infections such as impetigo and strep throat. In most instances, the infections caused by these bacteria are mild, but can cause a serious infection in rare cases.
An individual can develop necrotizing fasciitis if bacteria enter a wound such as from a burn, insect bite or cut. You can also acquire it from:
- Wounds exposed to raw saltwater fish, ocean water or being injured after handling sea creatures such as crabs.
- A strain in one of the muscles or a bruise even if there is no damage in the skin
- An intestinal surgical wound or gunshot injuries in the intestines
The bacteria can spread via close contact with one individual to another such as touching the wound of an infected individual. Remember that this rarely occurs unless the individual who was exposed to the bacteria has an open wound or weakened immune system.
What are the indications of necrotizing fasciitis?
The indications often begin abruptly after an injury. Medical care is required if there is pain that worsens over 24-36 hours and suddenly worsens. The pain might be worse than what one expects from the size of the wound. Other symptoms include:
- Fever and chills
- Skin that is swollen, reddened and warm
- Nausea and vomiting
The infection can rapidly spread and can become dangerous. The individual might go into a state of shock and damage the skin, tissues covering the muscles and fat. The condition can also lead to organ failure and even death.
Prompt treatment of necrotizing fasciitis is essential. As soon as treatment is started, the more likely for the individual to recover and avoid any serious complications such as amputation of the limb or even death. In some cases, the individual might require treatment in an intensive care unit at a healthcare facility.