A gangrene of the skin is the death of tissue, generally associated with the loss of blood supply to the damaged part, followed by invasion of Gangrenebacteria.

Gangrene is caused by an infection resulted from clostridia and in some cases, from other bacterias. Clostridia  is a type of bacteria, known as anaerobic bacteria, which grows only in the oxygen absence. Clostridia produces gas as they grow, so, such infection is in some cases known as the gas gangrene. Serious injuries, such as a crushed leg, may interrupt an oxygen and blood supply to the damaged part, making a situation, that allows clostridia to grow.

The infection develops within days or hours after the injuries. Gangrene can also progress in a surgical wounds, especially, when the supply of blood to the wounds is poor. An individual who has poor circulation, is especially at risk. In the skin gangrene, the skin can look pale at the beginning, but then becomes bronze or red, and finally, green. Clostridia infection also makes the skin swollen and warm. The infection can spread significantly creating bullae (large fluid-filled blisters). The fluid from such a blister looks brown and has a foul smell. The gas formed by the clostridia frequently bubbles in the fluid, and the bubble can make the person’s skin feel crackly while touched.

Within few days, the infection may develop from mild cellulitis to a severe gangrene causing delirium, kidney failure, and shock; this condition may be fatal. Skin gangrene can even develop extensively within hours, killing large amount of muscle and skin. Diagnosis of the skin gangrene is based on symptoms.

An X-ray can reveal gas under the person’s skin. A CT (computed tomography) and an MRI scan may help determine tissue destruction extent and the gas amount. Fluid can be obtained from the person’s wound and cultured to confirm that the skin gangrene is resulted from bacteria clostridium. When the condition is suggested, an antibiotic is promptly given. Additionally to the antibiotic, the surgeon removes dead tissue surgically. In some cases, particularly when circulation is poor, all or part of a limb should be amputated to prevent infection from spreading. Hyperbaric (high pressure) oxygen therapy can also be helpful to treat severe cases of skin gangrene. Despite all treatment options that are available, approx. 1 out of every 5 individuals with the skin gangrene condition does not survive.

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