Necrotizing soft tissue infection (NSTIs) include necrotizing forms of myositis, cellulitis, and fasciitis. These infections are severe and life-threatening. They are characterized by systemic signs of toxicity, tissue destruction, and high mortality.
NSTIs requires immediate medical attention and treatment to prevent it from destroying the skin, soft tissues, and muscles.
NSTIs is as a result of bacteria entering the skin or tissues under the skin through a cut or opening in the skin. It causes infected tissues to die and if untreated on time could lead to death.
Causes of necrotizing soft tissue infections
Necrotizing soft tissue infections can spread quickly from the original infection area to other areas. It is important to know the root causes of NSTIs and how to avoid getting infected.
Necrotizing infection is commonly caused by bacteria known as Streptococcus. Other types of bacteria can also cause necrotizing infection.
Bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococci, Clostridium perfringens, anaerobic bacteria, and Gram-negative bacteria.
You may need to under a broad-spectrum antibiotic to fight these bacteria before an accurate prognosis is carried out. This is because it could take a while before your doctor can find out the types of bacteria that are present.
Symptoms of necrotizing soft tissue infections
Early treatment of NSTIs helps to prevent the infection from spreading to other tissues and areas of the body.
NSTIs may not look severe at first, which is why some people that have NSTIs may not know on time. Infections can get worse if not treated on time.
Symptoms of NSTIs may look like other health problems or conditions. Early diagnosis is recommended to prevent further damages.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, see your doctor immediately. Common symptoms of NSTIs includes:
- Pain and warmth at a wound site.
- Redness of the skin or swelling at the wound site.
- Feeling of pain beyond a wound site or visible infection area.
- Extreme pain is more than the size of the wound.
- Feeling feverish with a rapid heartbeat as a result of a wound.
- Skin blisters around the wound area.
- Smelly liquids which are grayish draining from the wound.
- A feeling of hot sensation to touch around the wound area.
- Excess or abnormal sweating.
- Pus-filled bump or sore that is very painful.
- Numbness around the skin at the wound site.
- A wound or sore that won’t heal.
- Difficulty in thinking clearly.
Who is at higher risk of developing necrotizing soft tissue infection
Necrotizing soft tissue infections are caused by bacteria which invades the skin and tissues through a cut or opening. Anyone with a cut or wound can be infected.
However, there are people with higher risks of developing NSTIs. You have a higher risk of been infected if your cut or wound come in contact with dirt or saliva with bacteria.
People with some specific medical conditions are also at higher risk of been infected. These include:
- Weak immune system
- Peripheral artery disease
- Excess alcohol intake
- Intravenous (IV) drug use
- Individuals who are on dialysis
- Individuals who are on chemotherapy for cancer
Diagnosis of necrotizing soft tissue infection
When diagnosing for STIs, your healthcare provider will ask you some to be able to know the root cause of the infection.
These questions include:
- Questions about your medical history
- Questions about your travel history.
- You will be asked if you have eaten raw seafood at any point in time.
- You will be asked if you have recently been bitten by a spider or an animal.
- You will be asked if you have been exposed to brackish water or saltwater.
- You will be asked if you have a history of using IV drug
- You will be asked if you were contaminated with saliva or germs.
Your healthcare provider may also conduct physical exams and other tests to know the exact nature and degree of infection. These include:
- Blood tests, which include a complete blood cell count.
- X-rays, MRI or CT scan
- Tissue culture
- Biopsy cultures
- Debridement of the wound area for better inspection of the tissues.
Treatment of necrotizing soft tissue infection
NSTIs should be treated on time and aggressive treatment options should be taken to treat the infection.
Timely treatment will prevent the infection to spread to other parts of the body. Timely treatment also prevents adverse effects.
Treatment options include:
Removal of infected tissues
Infected tissues should be removed immediately to prevent the spread of infection to other areas. Removal of infected tissues can be through debridement or amputation of the affected limb. Amputation is used for severe cases whereby the infection has spread to a large portion of the limb.
Use of antibiotics and antifungal treatments
The use of antibiotics and antifungal medications is to fight against bacterial and fungal infections. Powerful antibiotics can also be given through the IV line.
Tetanus vaccine may also be given to prevent and protect against further infection.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy
This therapy is done to enhance and increase the healing process of a You will be placed in a pressurized oxygen chamber to increase the amount of oxygen you can breathe and to increase the efficiency of your red blood cells.
You may be required to undergo surgery to drain the sore and remove dead tissues.
This is done after the infection has been treated to help your skin heal on time.
Risks and complications of necrotizing soft tissue infection
NSTIs is a very serious medical condition that if not timely treated can lead to serious problems. It can lead to skin damage, muscle, and other soft tissues damage.
Severe infection could lead to amputation of the affected limbs such as arms or legs. It can ultimately lead to death if not treated on time.
Prevention of necrotizing soft tissue
Necrotizing soft tissue infection is caused when bacteria invade the skin and underlying tissues. To prevent bacteria from invading the skin and prevent being infected, you should always:
Clean and cover skin cuts and wounds
Whenever you have a cut or a wound, clean it thoroughly and cover it up with an adhesive bandage. This will prevent dirt or germs from entering the wound.
Engage in regular skin and foot checks
Check your skin and foot regularly for any signs of cut or wound. Avoid areas with dirt and always put on proper footwear. If you have diabetes or a weak immune system, always go for regular check-ups.
Wash your hands regularly
Washing your hands regularly with antiseptic soap and water is very important. This will keep your hand clean and free from germs or bacteria at all times.
Properly care for wounds and surgical sites
If you have wound or you did a surgery, follow all instructions given by your healthcare provider. Go for regular follow-ups as required.
Do not share personal items
You mustn’t share personal items so that you don’t contact germs or get infected from someone else. Personal items such as toothbrush, towel, razor blades must not be shared with someone else.
Take note of your risk factors
If you are diabetic, have peripheral artery disease, obese or have cancer, you have an increased risk of getting infected. Follow the instructions of your healthcare provider and keep healthy lifestyle habits.
Avoid excess intake of alcohol
If you drink too much alcohol your risk factor of developing NSTIs increases. Reduce your intake of alcohol or avoid taking alcohol to prevent been infected.
Regularly visit your doctor or healthcare provider
If you have any medical conditions that increase your risk of developing NSTIs, always make sure to visit your doctor or healthcare provider regularly. Go for regular check-ups and follow all instructions given to you by your healthcare provider.