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Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

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Necrotizing Fasciitis (Flesh-Eating Bacteria) Topics

Necrotizing Fasciitis (Flesh-Eating Bacteria) - Topic Overview


How is necrotizing fasciitis diagnosed?

The doctor will diagnose your infection based on how suddenly your symptoms started and how quickly the infection is spreading. The infected tissue may be tested for bacteria. You also may need X-rays, a CT scan, or an MRI to look for injury to your organs or to find out how much the infection has spread.

How is it treated?

Early treatment of necrotizing fasciitis is critical. The sooner treatment begins, the more likely you will recover from the infection and avoid serious complications, such as limb amputation or death. You may be treated in the intensive care unit (ICU) at the hospital.

Treatment may include:

  • Surgery that removes infected tissue and fluids to stop the spread of infection. Surgery is almost always needed. Most people need several surgeries to control the infection. Removing limbs (amputation) or organs may be done to save the person's life, depending on how severe the infection is and where it has spread.
  • Medicines (such as antibiotics). These kill the bacteria causing the infection.
  • Procedures to treat complications such as shock, breathing problems, and organ failure.
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

What if you have been near someone who has the disease?

Necrotizing fasciitis is very rare. Bacteria that cause the disease usually don't cause infection unless they enter the body through a cut or other break in the skin.

If you have been in close contact with someone who has necrotizing fasciitis, your doctor may give you an antibiotic to help reduce your chances of getting the infection. If you notice any symptoms of infection (such as pain, swelling, redness, or fever) after you've been in close contact with someone who has necrotizing fasciitis, see your doctor right away.

To help prevent any kind of infection, wash your hands often. And always keep cuts, scrapes, burns, sores, and bites clean.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 04, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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