Gas gangrene: Gas gangrene is rare but dangerous. It occurs when infection develops deep inside the body, such as inside muscles or organs, usually as a result of trauma. The bacteria that causes gas gangrene, called clostridia, release dangerous toxins or poisons that wreak havoc throughout the body, along with gas which can be trapped within body tissue. As the condition progresses, the skin may become pale and gray, and make a crackling sound when pressed, due to the gas within the tissue. Gas gangrene warrants immediate medical treatment. Without treatment, death can occur within 48 hours.
Fournier's gangrene: Also a rare condition, Fournier's gangrene is caused by an infection in the genital area. Men are affected more often than women. If the infection gets into the bloodstream, a condition called sepsis, it can be life-threatening.
You may notice the following symptoms at the site of the dry gangrene:
- Dry and shriveled skin that changes color from blue to black and eventually sloughs off
- Cold and numb skin
- Pain may or may not be present
Symptoms of wet gangrene may include:
- Swelling and pain at the site of infection
- Change in skin color from red to brown to black
- Blisters or sores that produce a bad-smelling discharge (pus)
- Fever and feeling unwell
- A crackling noise that comes from the affected area when pressed
Internal gangrene usually is painful in the area of the gangrene. For example, a person with gangrene of the appendix or colon would be expected to have severe abdominal pain in the vicinity of the gangrene.
If infection from gangrene gets into the blood, you may develop sepsis and go into septic shock. This can be life-threatening if not treated immediately. Symptoms of sepsis may include:
- Low blood pressure
- Rapid heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Change in body temperature
- Body pain and rash
- Cold, clammy, and pale skin
If you think you or a loved one may have sepsis, go to the emergency room immediately.
Treatment for gangrene involves removing the dead tissue, treating and preventing the spread of infection, and treating the condition that caused gangrene to develop. The sooner you receive treatment, the better your chance of recovery. Depending on the type of gangrene, treatment may include: