Death of body tissue because of lack of blood supply or a bacterial infection is called gangrene. Most commonly it affects the extremities but can also affect muscles and internal organs.
It develops when the death of tissue occurs because of interruption in its blood supply. It may be caused by an infection, injury, or as a complication of a long-term condition that restricts blood flow. Most commonly it occurs in the extremities – the toes, fingers, arms, and legs. The internal organs and muscles also become gangrenous.Types Of Gangrene Are
• Dry gangrene.
Skin becomes shriveled and dry, color ranges from brown to purplish-blue to black. It occurs slowly and most commonly in people who have any blood vessel disease, such as atherosclerosis.
• Wet gangrene.
There is characteristic swelling, blistering and skin appear wet. It can occur after a severe burn, frostbite or injury. Diabetic people are at more risk. The spread of wet gangrene is quick and it can be fatal.
• Gas gangrene.
It affects deep muscle tissues. Skin becomes pale and then changes to gray or purplish-red color. Skin becomes bubbly in appearance and crackling sound is produced when the affected skin is pressed.
• Internal gangrene.
Commonly affected internal organs are intestines, gallbladder or appendix. Blood flow to an internal organ is blocked. It can prove fatal if left untreated.
• Fournier’s gangrene.
The genital organs are affected by this type of gangrene. Fournier’s gangrene occurs as a result of an infection in the genital area or urinary tract and is responsible for genital pain, tenderness, redness, and swelling.
• Progressive bacterial synergistic gangrene.
This develops after an operation. Painful skin lesions develop after one to two weeks of surgery.
• Age – Old people are at more risk.
• Diabetes – the high blood sugar levels damage the nerves, especially in the feet. High blood sugar levels may also damage blood vessels, resulting in poor blood supply to the area.
• Vascular diseases – diseases of the blood vessels, such as atherosclerosis and blood clots can result in poor blood flow to various parts of the body.
• Injury or surgery – it will raise the risk of gangrene.
• Weakened immune system – Those with AIDS/HIV, patients receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy, as well as organ transplant recipients are more susceptible to the complications of infection, which include gangrene.
• Smoking – smoking causes the blood vessels to narrow, resulting in less blood flow.
Symptoms of dry gangrene
Dry gangrene develops slowly. It is the most common gangrene for patients with atherosclerosis and other vascular diseases.
• A red line appears on the skin which surrounds the affected tissue.
• When necrosis occurs there may be some pain.
• The area will gradually become numb and cold.
• The area will change from red to brown, to black.
• The tissue shrivels and eventually falls.
Symptoms of wet gangrene
Wet gangrene is more painful as compared to dry gangrene.
• The affected area swells before any tissue dies.
• The skin will change color from red to brown, to black.
• There will be pus and a foul smell.
Symptoms of Gas gangrene
Gas gangrene is usually caused by Clostridium perfringens bacteria. The bacterial infection produces the toxin that releases a gas. Gas gangrene can become life-threatening.
• The affected area feels heavy and painful.
• The skin may appear to bubble.
• A crackling sound when area is pressed. This sound is caused by the gas.
• Sometimes there may be a watery discharge which does not usually have a foul smell.
• Blood tests to see the number of white blood cells as they are high in gangrene.
• CT scan to examine internal organs.
• Tissue Examination.
• A culture of the tissue or fluid from wounds to identify bacterial infection.
Dead tissue is removed surgically; this helps in preventing gangrene from spreading.
• Skin graft:
Healthy skin is taken from one part of the patient’s body and spread it over the affected area.
Amputation: Amputation of the affected body part is done in cases of severe gangrene, for example, a finger, toe, or limb.
• Hyperbaric oxygen therapy
• Maggot therapy
• Blood transfusions: This may help in reducing the infection and speed up the healing process.
• Prognosis depends on the type of gangrene, a condition of a patient and how much gangrene is present.
• Death can occur in case of delayed treatment.
• Disability from the amputation of part or removal of dead tissue.
• Prolonged healing of a wound.
• Dry gangrene in old people.
• Soreness and burning relieved by warmth.
• It is often indicated in gangrene of the lungs.
• There is great weakness, emaciation, and coldness and heat alternately.
• Patient has hot, bluish, moist gangrene.
• The limb is covered with black blisters with swelling, emitting a foul odor.
• Suited to senile gangrene with tingling and formication.
• The skin is wrinkled and dry, shriveled and cold with no sensitivity.
• Large ecchymoses and blood blisters, which become gangrenous, will indicate the remedy.
• Carbuncles and boils become gangrenous.
• The parts have a livid purple look, and they are icy cold.
• Moist gangrene in cachectic persons whose vitality is weak. The secretions are foul and there is great prostration.
• Bluish, purplish appearance of the skin.
• On skin, there are carbuncles, ulcers with bluish and purple surroundings.
• Bed sores with black edges.
• Well indicated medicine for gangrene purple bluish in color.
• Well indicated medicine for superficial ulcers and sores on lower extremities.
• Ulcers especially in females who are at a climacteric age (menopause age).
• There is varicosity of veins in lower legs.
• Indicated medicine for gangrene occurring after mechanical injuries.
• Well indicated for purpura haemorrhagica.
• There are livid, red, and itchy blotches on the skin.
• Chilblains with a gangrenous tendency.
• Hemorrhage of blood from all outlets.
• Foot care: if you have diabetes regularly examine your hands and feet for cuts, sores, and signs of infections.
• Avoid Smoking
• Treat cuts promptly: if you cut or graze your skin wash it with warm water and a mild soap and keep it clean and dry until it heals.
• Frostbite: if you have been out in the cold for a long time and your skin becomes pale, cold and numb, gets it treated.
Why not ask your query directly to Dr. Thind’s team? Get an expert opinion FOR FREE!