Gangrene: Don’t Wait to Get Treatment
You may think of gangrene as something that occurred back in your grandmother’s day, or maybe you think that it only happens in countries with poor health care. The truth is that even with the advent of antibiotics, it is still a threat to your health here and now. The term refers to the death of body tissue, and it usually occurs because of reduced blood flow to the area, or the presence of a bacterial infection. Having surgery, injuring yourself, developing frostbite, or suffering from diabetes puts you more at risk for this condition. The key to avoiding complications is to start treatment as soon as possible. This disease often affects the extremities – fingers, toes, and feet. If you notice any sign of infection in your feet, call Aadvanced Foot Care Associates right away.
What Does Gangrene Look Like?
There are several types of this infection, each with its own symptoms.
- Dry gangrene may or may not cause pain, but the skin will probably feel cold or numb, and eventually shrivel, turn blue or black, and slough off.
- Wet gangrene almost always means infection, and it’s called wet because of the pus that is present. Other symptoms may include pain, discolored skin, blisters or lesions with pus that smells bad, fever, and generally feeling sick.
- Internal gangrene occurs inside of the body in tissue or organs and usually involves severe pain in the area of the infection, such as your colon or appendix.
- Other rare but dangerous types are gas gangrene (bacteria produce toxins and gas that gets trapped inside the tissues or organs), Fournier’s gangrene (usually affects men and involves the genital area), and Meleney’s gangrene (a possible complication after surgery).
Who Is at Risk for This Infection?
Anyone who has problems with decreased blood flow to any area of their body is more vulnerable. Some examples are older people, those with diabetes, blood vessel diseases like atherosclerosis, and those whose immune systems are not functioning properly due to disease or chemotherapy. As we age, our vessels can begin to deteriorate and circulation can decrease. Diabetics who have neuropathy may not realize their foot or toe is injured and wait too long to have it treated. Those with immune system issues may not be able to fight off simple bacterial infections, which develop into this more serious condition.
How Is It Treated?
Gangrene is not something to try to take care of on your own. You need to consult the specialists at Aadvanced Foot Care Associates first thing. Antibiotics may help if the case is not too severe, and pain relievers may be prescribed to relieve some of the discomfort. Many times surgery is needed to remove dead tissue and let the healthy tissue grow, or to repair damaged or narrowed blood vessels for increased circulation. If the area is extensive, a skin graft can be performed to reconstruct the damaged area if proper blood flow can be restored. In the most severe cases, the toe or foot cannot be saved and amputation may be the only alternative. Do your best to prevent this infection by caring for your feet if you have diabetes. Stop smoking and lose weight to prevent blood vessel constrictions, and keep any injury as clean as possible.
Your feet deserve the best care. Drs. Hal Abrahamson and Daniel E. Orozco at Aadvanced Foot Care Associates have over 40 years of foot treatment experience between them and are able to help diagnose and treat your foot problems. Call their main offices in Rego Park (718) 896-4433, Plainview (516) 822-9595 or Flushing (718) 969-2266 today, or book an appointment online.