Necrotizing Fasciitis

Overview of Necrotizing Fasciitis

Necrotizing fasciitis is one of the leading fatal skin diseases, where many bacteria attack the subcutaneous and fascia layers of the skin, that cause severe inflammation.

Necrotizing fasciitis is a life-threatening skin infection of the subcutaneous (beneath the skin) and fascia tissues (covering the internal organs).  It can be caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria which is called flesh-eating bacteria. When skin becomes infected with these kinds of bacteria, they abruptly spread to other body parts, prompt diagnosis and treatment are highly recommended. If it is not treatable on time, it may result in multiple organ failures and death.

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Signs and Symptoms of Necrotizing Fasciitis

A spontaneous and rapid spreading of necrotizing fasciitis infections may begin to show its signs and symptoms within a few hours of injury.

The initial signs and symptoms of necrotizing fasciitis are:

  • Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, sore throat, nausea, diarrhea, body aches, and chills
  • Severe pain in the affected area (similar to the pain of torn muscles)
  • Redness around the infection site
  • Formation of ulcers or blisters

If the bacteria are deep inside the tissue, signs of inflammation are not visible at the early stages until a person feels pain and redness in the affected area. The skin seems to be swollen, shiny, and hot to the touch.
If the infections remain on the skin and continue to infect over there, then the person may prevail these symptoms

  • Dehydration
  • A rapid heart rate
  • Low blood pressure


The pain starts to lessen as the bacteria damage the tissues and nerves and further infect the body's vital organs.  This leads to mental illness.

Types of Necrotizing Fasciitis

The severe disease caused by multiple bacteria is classified into four different types:

  • Type I Infection

In this type, almost 70% to 80% of people are affected by several kinds of bacteria. Following are some common bacteria that usually cause type I infection:

  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Streptococcus pyogenes
  • Escherichia coli
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Anaerobes
  • Enterococci

Among these bacteria, the most causative microbes  are given below:

Clostridium perfringens - It blocks the blood vessels by producing toxins in the body.  Due to this, the harmful toxins make it difficult to pass the oxygen into the blood vessels. Also reduces the red blood cells in the body as it absorbs in tissues.
Clostridium sordellii-It also releases two toxins in the body that cause pain and severe swelling at the inflamed area.

  • Type II infection

Almost 20%-30% of people are affected by type II infection. These are the bacteria that typically cause the infection that are:

  • Streptococcus pyogenes
  • Staphylococcal bacteria

These infections have a rapid effect on a person's body and characterized by

  • High fever
  • Low blood pressure level
  • Type III Infection

This type is caused by Vibrio vulnificus bacteria, which have less effect on necrotizing fasciitis disease.

  • Type IV Infection

This type is caused by fungal infection and rarely affects necrotizing disease.

Causes of Necrotizing Fasciitis

People with necrotizing fasciitis enter the bacteria into the body through a cut, scrape or surgical wound and other injuries. These injuries may be fatal for them.
Not only one type of bacteria like group A Streptococcus causes infection but also several other types of bacteria are also involved.

  • Aeromonas hydrophila
  • Clostridium
  • E. coli
  • Klebsiella
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • The necrotizing fasciitis is more sensitive to those people who already have severe complications that weaken the immune system, such as cancer or diabetes.

Risk Factors of Necrotizing Fasciitis

People who are at risk of necrotizing fasciitis due to various reasons are as follows:

  • Chronic heart or lung disease
  • Using steroids
  • Skin lesions
  • Using injectables or IV drugs
  • Diabetic Cirrhosis
  • Lung diseases

Necrotizing Fasciitis Health Complications

Serious complications of necrotizing fasciitis may be possible as it becomes chronic. Some are included as:


  • Severe scarring
  • Sepsis
  • Loss of an arm or leg
  • Shock
  • Organ failure
  • Death



In order to minimize the symptoms of necrotizing fasciitis, below are the preventive steps for infected patients:


  • Clean the wounds, small breaks, minor cuts or blisters with the soap and water immediately.
  • Wrap up the wounds with a sterile bandage.
  • Wash your hands properly after bathroom use, cough, sneezing or nose blowing, even before and after eating of food.
  • Avoid people who have a sore throat because the same bacteria cause necrotizing fasciitis.


For examination of the skin, a doctor may suggest various tests to diagnose this condition such as:

  • Skin Biopsy: A small piece of tissue is extracted from the skin for analysis.
  • Blood Tests: This test is conducted to check the signs of inflammation and infection. It is required if the muscles are damaged.
  • Computerised Tomography (CT), or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): These scans may help the doctor to observe the state of infection and how much infection has spread to other parts of the body.

Treatment of Necrotizing Fasciitis | When to Consult a Doctor

In this flesh-eating disease, the bacteria enter the bloodstream via open wounds. Many methods have been opted to treat this serious disease such as home remedies, antibiotics, and surgery. If any individual is diagnosed with this fatal disease then there is a definite possibility of getting admitted to the hospital for a couple of months to weeks. To prevent this hospital stay, the following home remedies can help.

Home Remedies

Many natural herbs are used to get rid of this disease if it is not so severe. 

  • Turmeric
  • Pascalite
  • Oregano Oil
  • Olive Leafs
  • Tea Tree Oil

Other Therapies

The powerful antibiotic injections are primarily used for the treatment of necrotizing fasciitis. These antibacterial solutions are directly administered into the veins (Intravenous) that eventually kill the tissues partially. Antibiotics may be unable to cover all infected areas. That's why dermatologists eliminate the dead areas of the body quickly. 

In a few cases, the removal of one or more limbs may be required to stop expanding the infection.