What is gangrene?

Fact Checked

Gangrene is defined as a serious condition resulting to the death of the body tissues due to the loss of blood supply. It can affect any part of the body but usually in the feet, toes, hands and fingers.


Gangrene can also develop after an infection, injury or long-term condition that disrupts the blood circulation.

What are the signs?

The usual indications of gangrene might include the following:

  • Swelling and redness in the affected region
  • Blisters or sores in the affected area that bleed or drain foul-smelling pus
  • Loss of sensation or intense pain in the affected area

A doctor must be seen right away if worried about gangrene.

Blisters or sores in the affected area that bleed or drain foul-smelling pus.

Who are at risk?

Any individual can develop gangrene especially after a serious injury, but some are at higher risk. These include individuals with long-standing conditions affecting the blood vessels such as:

  • Diabetes – long-standing condition where the blood sugar level rises to high levels
  • Peripheral arterial disease – involves the accumulation of fatty deposits in the arteries which limits the blood supply to the leg muscles
  • Atherosclerosis – the arteries are blocked with a plaque which constricts the flow of blood
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon – the blood vessels in certain parts of the body, usually the toes or fingers react to cold temperatures

Management of gangrene

If treatment is started early, gangrene can be effectively managed. The main treatment options include surgical removal of the damaged tissues or debridement and antibiotic therapy to deal with any underlying infection.

In some instances, surgery might be required to restore the flow of blood to the affected region. In serious cases, the entire body part should be removed such as the foot, toe or lower leg.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on gangrene is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize the signs and how it is treated, register for a first aid and CPR course with Victoria First Aid.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The information posted on this page is for educational purposes only.
If you need medical advice or help with a diagnosis contact a medical professional

  • All firstaidcprvictoria.ca content is reviewed by a medical professional and / sourced to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

  • We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable websites, academic research institutions and medical articles.

  • If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please contact us through our contact us page.