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Symptoms of Necrotising Fasciitis
Symptoms of Necrotising Fasciitis

Symptoms of Necrotising Fasciitis

If you believe that you might be suffering from Necrotising Fasciitis, what are the main symptoms? Read this guide to find out about the major symptoms of Necrotising Fasciitis.

The Main Symptoms of Necrotising Fasciitis

The warning signs of Necrotising Fasciitis change in severity as the disease advances. The main symptoms to look out for, including during the early, advanced, and critical stages, are as follows:-

Early Symptoms (usually within 24 hours)

  • Trauma to the skin will usually have occurred, even if a patient does not realise it has happened this could be a very minor trauma such as a cut or a scratch, or more significant such as surgery;
  • Pain and discomfort in the general region of trauma;
  • Pain will continue to worsen and is usually disproportionate to the injury;
  • Flu like symptoms begin to develop, including diarrhoea, nausea, fever, confusion, dizziness, weakness and general malaise;
  • Dehydration.

Advanced Symptoms (usually within 34 days)

  • The site of pain begins to swell and may show a purplish rash;
  • The limb may begin to have large, dark marks that will become blisters filled with blackish fluid;
  • The wound may actually begin to appear necrotic with a bluish, white or dark mottled, flaky appearance.

Critical Symptoms (usually within 45 days)

  • Blood pressure will drop severely;
  • The body goes into septic shock;
  • Unconsciousness.

What Is Necrotising Fasciitis?

Necrotising Fasciitis is a rare type of tissue infection, with only around 500 cases diagnosed every year in the UK. Commonly known as the 'flesh eating disease', it develops after bacteria enter the body, either through direct contact with someone carrying the bacteria or after a penetrating injury to the skin. This can include significant trauma, such as surgery, or a minor injury, such as a scratch or cut. In some cases, trauma to the skin is so minor that the patient is not even aware it has happened.

Once inside the body, the bacteria quickly reproduce, causing toxins to be released which attack the soft tissue and fascia (a sheath of tissue covering the muscle). This destroys the soft tissue and fascia, and if left untreated can cause the body's organs to go into systemic shock.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The bacteria which cause Necrotising Fasciitis spread rapidly, meaning a patient can become critical very quickly. A prompt diagnosis is therefore essential. However, unfortunately the primary symptoms of Necrotising Fasciitis can look like a minor affliction, and it is often misdiagnosed during the early stages.

To make a positive diagnosis, a medical professional should make a visual examination of the infected area, as well as sending tissue samples for microscopic evaluation.

If Necrotising Fasciitis is suspected, then antibiotics should be administered without delay. Once the presence of the infection is confirmed, then further treatment should follow immediately. This will involve the debridement (surgical removal) of the necrotic tissue, not only to remove the infected tissue, but to prevent the bacteria spreading. The extent of debridement will depend upon how far the disease has advanced. In cases of aggressive debridement, skin grafting is necessary to help heal the wound.

Summary

If you believe you or a loved one could be suffering from Necrotising Fasciitis then it is urgent you seek medical assistance, as an early diagnosis is vital.

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