Necrotizing Fasciitis

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Overview

Necrotizing fasciitis is a subset of the aggressive skin and soft tissue infections (SSTIs) that cause necrosis of the muscle fascia and subcutaneous tissues. This infection typically travels along the fascial plane, which has a poor blood supply, leaving the overlying tissues initially unaffected, potentially delaying diagnosis and surgical intervention. The infectious process can rapidly spread causing infection of the fascia, peri-fascial planes, and cause a secondary infection of the overlying and underlying skin, soft tissue, and muscle.

Necrotizing fasciitis can occur post-surgery, any invasive procedure or even a minor procedure like phlebotomy. The causative bacteria are usually mixed but do produce gas.

Symptoms

Ulcers, blisters, or black spots on the skin.

Changes in the color of the skin.

Pus or oozing from the infected area.

Dizziness.

Fatigue (tiredness)

Diarrhea or nausea.

Causes

Public health experts believe group A Streptococcus (group A strep) are the most common cause of necrotizing fasciitis. This web page only focuses on necrotizing fasciitis caused by group A strep bacteria. Bacteria that live in water, including Vibrio vulnificus, can also cause necrotizing fasciitis.

Risk factors

You can develop necrotizing fasciitis even if you’re perfectly healthy, but this is rare. People who already have health issues that weaken the immune system, such as cancer or diabetes, are at greater riskTrusted Source of developing infections caused by group A Streptococcus.


Other people who are at greater risk for necrotizing fasciitis include those who:


have chronic heart or lung disease

use steroids

have skin lesions

abuse alcohol or inject drugs

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Complications

You can develop necrotizing fasciitis even if you’re perfectly healthy, but this is rare. People who already have health issues that weaken the immune system, such as cancer or diabetes, are at greater riskTrusted Source of developing infections caused by group A Streptococcus.

Other people who are at greater risk for necrotizing fasciitis include those who:


have chronic heart or lung disease

use steroids

have skin lesions

abuse alcohol or inject drugs

Prevention

There's no sure way to prevent a necrotizing fasciitis infection. However, you can reduce your risk with basic hygiene practices. Wash your hands frequently with soap and treat any wounds promptly, even minor ones. If you already have a wound, take good care of it.