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Necrotizing fasciitis is a serious and rare bacterial infection characterized by inflammation and death of the tissue that lies beneath the skin and involves the muscles, nerves and blood vessels, called fascia. This infection occurs mainly by group A Streptococcus bacteria, being more frequent due to Streptococcus pyogenes.
The bacteria can spread quickly, causing symptoms that have a very rapid evolution, such as fever, the appearance of a red and swollen area on the skin that progresses to ulcers and darkening of the region. Therefore, in the presence of any sign indicative of necrotizing fasciitis, it is important to go to the hospital so that treatment can be started and, thus, complications can be avoided.
Symptoms of Necrotizing Fasciitis
The bacteria can enter the body through openings in the skin, whether due to injections, use of drugs applied to a vein, burns and cuts. From the moment the bacteria manages to enter the body, it spreads quickly, leading to the appearance of symptoms that progress quickly, the main ones being:
- Appearance of a red or swollen area on the skin that increases over time;
- Intense pain in the red and swollen area, which can also be noticed in other parts of the body;
- Emergence of ulcers and blisters;
- Region darkening;
- Presence of pus in the wound.
The evolution of signs and symptoms indicate that the bacteria is multiplying and causing tissue death, called necrosis.Therefore, if any sign that may indicate necrotizing fasciitis is noticed, it is important to go to the hospital for a diagnosis and treatment to be made.
Although group A Streptococcus can be found naturally in the body, necrotizing fasciitis does not happen to everyone. This infection is more common in diabetics, people with chronic or malignant diseases, over 60 years of age, obesity, who use immunosuppressive drugs or who have vascular diseases.
Learn more about Group A Streptococcus.
Complications of necrotizing fasciitis occur when the infection is not identified and treated with antibiotics. Thus, there can be sepsis and organ failure, as the bacteria can reach other organs and develop there. In addition, due to tissue death, there may also be a need to remove the affected limb, in order to prevent the spread of bacteria and the occurrence of other infections.
How the diagnosis is made
The diagnosis of necrotizing fasciitis is made by observing the signs and symptoms presented by the person, in addition to the results of laboratory tests. Blood and imaging tests are usually requested to observe the affected region, in addition to tissue biopsy, which is important to identify the presence of the bacteria at the site. Understand what a biopsy is and how it is performed.
Although it is advised that treatment with antibiotics should only be started after the results of complementary exams, in the case of necrotizing fasciitis the treatment should be done as soon as possible due to the severe and rapid evolution of the disease.
How to treat
The treatment of necrotizing fasciitis should be done in the hospital, and it is recommended that the person remains in isolation for a few weeks so that there is no risk of transmitting the bacteria to other people.
Treatment is done with the use of antibiotics intravenously (in the vein) to fight the infection. However, when the infection is more advanced and there are signs of necrosis, surgery may be indicated to remove the tissue and thus fight the infection.