What Do You Need To Know About Gangrene?

Gangrene Definition: 

When a body tissue doesn’t get a sufficient amount of blood, it dies and leads to a condition called gangrene. It usually affects the body parts that are far away from the heart, for example, fingers and toes. Although other body parts, as well as the internal organs, may also get affected. 

Gangrene typically begins at a specific body part and then spread to other regions. When left untreated, it can make you go into shock. Your blood pressure level may go down, and the condition could be fatal.

This article contains complete knowledge of gangrene. Read further and get comprehended about the same.

What Is The First Sign Of Gangrene?

A reddish line forms around the diseased tissue, and it is the first sign of gangrene. This line may transform to black later. Other common symptoms include a wound that is red, swollen, or sore.

What Does Gangrene Smell Like?

The appearance and gangrene smell depends upon the type of the disease. Consider the following points:

  • Dry Gangrene: The color of the affected region changes from red to black 
  • Wet Gangrene: There occurs swelling of the affected region and gives a foul smell
  • Gas Gangrene: It has a foul smell along with the release of brown-colored pus

What Are The Types Of Gangrene?

The six basic types of gangrene are listed below:

Dry Gangrene:

  • Happens when the blood flow to specific body part blocks or slows down
  • Peripheral parts (like fingers, earlobes, toes, the tip of the nose) usually gets affected 
  • Patients of type 1 or type 2 diabetes are at an elevated risk of the disease
  • The skin is closed, and therefore people recognize no symptoms

Wet Gangrene:

  • Happens when some bacteria infects a body tissue
  • The affected body tissue becomes moist and deteriorates over time
  • It calls for a medical emergency as the infection can spread all through the body
  • The spread of disease is rapid and can entail a life-threatening situation

Gas Gangrene:

It is caused by the clostridia bacteria that is found in the spores of the soil

Gas gangrene is one of the leading causes of death during wars

The bacteria releases toxins which lead to the formation of gangrene

Gas gangrene can be further classified into the following three categories:

  • Traumatic gas gangrene occurs after an injury
  • Non-traumatic gas gangrene happens when bacteria enter the body, and blood flow to specific body tissue gets obstructed
  • Recurrent gas gangrene led by clostridium perfringens bacteria

Fournier’s Gangrene:

  • It involves genital organs
  • Men are at a higher risk for Fournier’s gangrene than women
  • Happens due to an infection in the urinary tract or genital area
  • Causes genital tenderness, pain, swelling, and redness

Internal Gangrene:

It can affect more than one organ such as gallbladder, appendix, or intestine

Happens when the blood circulation to internal organ gets obstructed

Meleney’s Gangrene

Also called as progressive bacterial synergistic gangrene 

Occurs after an operation

Causes painful skin injuries developing within 1-2 weeks after a surgery

What Causes Gangrene?

The cause of your gangrene relies on the type of disease you have. Let us now discuss the roots of the two most prevalent types:

Dry gangrene can result from:

  • Diabetes: Diabetes usually damages the nerves and blood vessels that cause reduced flow of oxygen to body parts. It increases the risk of gangrene. 

  • Raynaud’s Disease: For some people, Raynaud’s disease can be the underlying cause of gangrene. Raynaud’s disease refers to a condition in which blood circulation to the extremities of the body gets impaired.

  • Vascular Problems: Vascular problems lead to poor health of arteries and veins, which causes gangrene.

  • Severe burns, scalds, and cold: Dry gangrene can be caused due to overexposure to chemicals, heat, or extreme cold. 

Wet Gangrene can result from:

  • Trauma: Injuries caused by war zones or some accidents can sometimes result in the formation of gangrene.
  • Dry Gangrene: If the region is contaminated with bacteria, it can cause wet gangrene.
  • Immune Deficiency: If your immune system has become weak by excessive use of alcohol or drug abuse or due to medical conditions like diabetes or HIV, wet gangrene can occur.
  • Embolism: Sudden obstruction of arteries can give rise to dry Gangrene. It can also develop bacterial infections, leading to wet Gangrene.

Who Are At The Risk For Gangrene?

Some of the risk factors associated with gangrene are listed below:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Intravenous drug utilization
  • Excessive use of alcohol, as it damages the nerves
  • High blood pressure, diabetes pr vascular diseases
  • Weakened immune system
  • Usage of an anticoagulant drug called warfarin

Also Read: Polio: Symptoms, Prevention & Treatment

Is Gangrene Curable?

Yes, Gangrene is curable, and the best treatment alternative for a person with Gangrene relies on the following factors:

  • Type,
  • Location and 
  • The extent of the infected tissue

Gas gangrene is one of the most dangerous forms and can be fatal. So, if you recognize symptoms of Gangrene, seek immediate medical assistance. 

Following are the treatment options:

Antibiotics: Antibiotics can be injected through the veins or can be taken as a pill. The doctor can also recommend taking medicines after you have undergone surgery or hyperbaric oxygen therapy to reduce the need for further surgery. 

Some of the best antibiotics for gangrene are as follows:

Hyperbaric Oxygen Center: This therapy is done to increase the pressure and level of oxygen in the blood. The presence of more oxygen in the blood slows down the spread of infection and cures gangrene.

Surgery: The doctor eradicates the dead tissue employing a surgical procedure. It stops the spread of the infection and accelerates the healing of the affected tissue. 

The doctor can also attempt to repair the diseased blood vessels to encourage the blood flow to the infected region. 

When reconstructive surgery is required, the doctor can use skin grafting to fix the damage caused to the skin. 

In the skin grafting, the doctor extracts the healthy tissue from certain areas of your body and uses it in place of the affected tissue. It can be done by some small stitches or directly through the dressing. 

Amputation: When the surgeon reaches to the conclusion that nothing can be done to improve the blood circulation, he recommends amputation. In this, the patient gets retrofitted with an artificial limb. 

Tissue Debridement: In severe cases of gangrene, the affected tissue needs to be removed. The process of tissue debridement does it. The objective of this treatment is to eradicate the diseased tissue and lower the risk of spread to other body parts. 

How To Prevent Gangrene?

There are several things you can do to prevent gangrene. Some of them are listed below:

  • Avoid smoking as it blocks the arteries and reduces the blood supply to your legs or arms. 
  • Have a healthy, balanced diet. Unhealthy food can result in the formation of gangrene. 
  • Drink moderately as excessive use of alcohol raises the cholesterol level in the blood resulting in gangrene.
  • Do some physical activity regularly — for example, Brisk walking, cycling, swimming, tennis. 
  • Take extra care of your feet if you have diabetes or any other chronic condition. 










Tags: How do you get gangrene, Antibiotics for gangrene, How to prevent gangrene

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Janet Fudge

Janet Fudge writes on general health topics for CheapMedicineShop.com. She holds a post-graduate diploma in Public Health with a major in epidemiology. During the outbreak of COVID-19, Janet actively volunteered in vaccination drives throughout the state of Iowa. She lives in Iowa with her husband and two children.