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Gangrene

Intro

Consult a health-care provider immediately if the following signs develop:

  • An area of the body turns blue or black.
  • A wound does not heal in seven to14 days.
  • Pain in a localized area is severe.
  • Unexplained fever is persistent.
  • Pus or blood drains from the wound.
  • A foul-smelling odor discharges from the wound.
Follow-up
  • Keep the affected area clean.
  • Follow the health-care provider's instructions regarding changing bandages and dressings.
  • Be sure to complete the antibiotic course that is prescribed.
  • Limit activity as much as possible for a few days.
Prevention

The best weapon against gangrene is prevention.

  • Keep wounds clean and sterile by cleaning all wounds thoroughly with antiseptic solution.
  • Watch for signs of infection, such as pus, redness, swelling, or unusual pain.
  • Consult a health-care provider if any wound becomes infected.
  • People with diabetes  should control their blood-sugar levels with proper medication .
  • Education about proper foot care is vital for people with diabetes. They should routinely examine their feet for any signs of injury or change in skin color. Any small injury should be immediately cared for. They should keep their nails trimmed and wear comfortable well-fitting shoes.

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Outlook

The outlook for a person with gangrene depends on the following factors:

  • Part of the body affected
  • The extent of gangrene
  • The cause of gangrene
  • The overall health status of the individual

The prognosis is generally favorable except in people in whom the infection has spread through the blood stream. Gangrene is usually curable in the early stages with intravenous antibiotic treatment and debridement. Without treatment, gangrene may lead to a fatal infection.

Gas gangrene can progress quickly; the spread of infection to the bloodstream is associated with a death rate of 20-25%. However, if it is diagnosed and treated early, approximately 80% of people with gas gangrene survive without the need for any amputation, and only 15-20% require some form of amputation.

People with dry gangrene most often have many other health problems that complicate recovery, and other system failures usually prove fatal.

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