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Necrotizing Fasciitis

AMBULATORY CARE:

Necrotizing fasciitis

is a rare bacterial infection that spreads quickly and destroys skin, fat, and muscle. It is also known as flesh-eating bacteria. Necrotizing fasciitis is a life-threatening infection that must be treated immediately.

Common signs and symptoms include the following:

  • Redness, swelling, and severe pain
  • Sores or blisters that ooze
  • Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, nausea, and muscle pain
  • Fatigue, lightheadedness, and fainting

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have a fever and a new wound with redness, swelling, or pain.
  • You have flu-like symptoms within 24 hours of an injury.
  • You have dark blisters near your wound that drain black fluid.
  • The area around your wound is numb.
  • The skin around your wound becomes discolored or flaky.

Call your doctor if:

  • You have a sore throat.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Treatment for necrotizing fasciitis

may include any of the following:

  • Medicines help treat your infection and reduce your pain.
  • Surgery may be needed to remove dead tissue and help prevent the spread of your infection. You may need surgery to relieve pressure, or a skin graft to reconstruct the infection site. Limb amputation may be needed to save your life.
  • Hyperbaric therapy may be used to decrease swelling and increase wound healing.
  • Wound vacuum therapy may be used to help stop bacteria from spreading and increase wound healing.

Physical therapy (PT):

You may need PT to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain. PT also helps to promote blood flow and prevent clots.

Prevent another infection:

  • Wash your hands often. Wash your hands several times each day. Wash after you use the bathroom, change a child's diaper, and before you prepare or eat food. Use soap and water every time. Rub your soapy hands together, lacing your fingers. Wash the front and back of your hands, and in between your fingers. Use the fingers of one hand to scrub under the fingernails of the other hand. Wash for at least 20 seconds. Rinse with warm, running water for several seconds. Then dry your hands with a clean towel or paper towel. Use germ-killing gel if soap and water are not available. Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth without washing your hands first.
    Handwashing
  • Clean all wounds immediately. Use soap and water to clean even small breaks in your skin, such as minor cuts or blisters. Cover the wounds with a sterile bandage. Change the bandage as directed or if it becomes wet or dirty.
  • Limit your exposure to bacteria. Avoid people who are sick and have a sore throat. The bacteria that cause strep throat can also cause necrotizing fasciitis.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Necrotizing Fasciitis (Ambulatory Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.