Necrotizing Fasciitis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

It is a type of bacterial infection that predominantly affects the skin, subcutaneous tissue and muscle.

The medical term “necrosis” actually refers to the death of the cells or tissues of the body. Essentially, necrotizing fasciitis is the cellular destruction of the skin and subcutaneous tissue. For this reason, it is defined as a bacterial infection that eats meat, because bacteria literally eat the layers of the skin.

Causes of Necrotizing Fasciitis

Although in rare cases the necrotizing fasciitis can be caused by certain strains of fungi, the condition usually occurs as a result of some type of bacterial infection. The most common strains of bacteria known to cause this infection are group A streptococci and staphylococci. However, it is important to note that when the wound is grown, other types of bacteria can be found, including non-aerobic organisms, such as E. coli, Klebsiella and Pseudomonas.

Many medical scientists have concluded that aerobic bacteria are not capable of damaging tissues because oxygen in the affected area is significantly reduced, which then gives aerobic organisms such as streptococci and staphylococci the opportunity to reproduce and expand.


  • Skin reddened, inflamed and warm to the touch.
  • Fever and chills.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.

Who is at risk

Although this condition is rare, recent studies have indicated that approximately 25 percent of patients die from the progression of this disease. In general, patients with immunodeficiency disorders such as diabetes, cancer and kidney disease have a much higher risk of developing necrotizing fasciitis due to the compromised state of the immune system. In addition, it is important to note that steroids are considered as an immunosuppressive agent; Which is why patients taking steroids for different medical conditions should be aware of the risk factor.

The main transfer method for bacteria that cause necrotizing fasciitis is through the skin. This means that open wounds are particularly of great concern for transmission, which include decubitus ulcers and postsurgical incisions.


Due to the risk of this disease, patients with this condition should be hospitalized immediately after the initial diagnosis has been made.

The intravenous antibiotics are started as long as treatment culture results to determine exactly what type of bacteria caused the infection. Broad-spectrum antibiotics are commonly used to cover a wide variety of bacteria and to help reduce the risk of a Staphylococcus aureus-resistant infection. Once the results of the cultures are available and the susceptibility of the organism has been determined, the patient can be given an antibiotic that can eradicate that particular organism.

Most patients with necrotizing fasciitis will have to undergo a surgical procedure that is used to remove dead tissue. The purpose of this procedure is to help reduce the risk of infection, as well as decrease the ability of bacteria to spread and create a more critical condition.