​Necrotizing Fasciitis


Necrotizing fasciitis (sometimes called flesh-eating bacteria) is a bacterial infection which is very rare but extremely dangerous. It destroys the skin along with the layers of fats and tissues covering the muscles. Necrotizing fasciitis can be caused by various kinds of bacteria, most commonly by group A streptococcus (strep). The infection is usually mild and easily treatable. However, cases of necrotizing fasciitis can quickly become life threatening or warrent an amputation, as it tends to spread rapidly once it enters the body. You can get necrotizing fasciitis when the bacteria enters a wound caused by an insect bite, a cut, burn, scrape, or puncture wound. It is really important to care for your wound and keep it clean. Risk factors of necrotizing fasciitis include:

  • A weak immune system

  • Chronic health problems such as diabetes, cancer, or liver or kidney disease

  • Use of steroids which reduces body’s resistance to infections

  • Viral infection that causes a rash


Symptoms of necrotizing fasciitis often start within an hour of getting an infection. The pain can be severe and may not make sense when compared to the injury you suffered. The infection may cause:

  • Skin is warm, redden and swollen

  • Fever and chills

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhoea

  • Fatigue

It is extremely important to seek immediate medical help if you receive an injury and if the pain seems to get better over the next day, however suddenly worsens, as this type of infection tends to progress rapidly. Visit one of our highly trained doctors at the Teeth and Skin and Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital for a timely diagnosis that may just save your life.

Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.

It is essential that you explain your symptoms to your doctor properly. Your doctor will be able to deduce the presence of an infection based on your symptoms and how quickly they are progressing. Further tests may be conducted, including:

  • Testing of infection for bacteria

  • X-ray, CT (Computerized Tomography)  or MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan to look for damage on the organs and the spread of the infection

When symptoms of necrotizing faciitis are detected early, your doctor at the Teeth and Skin Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital will try their utmost best to cure your ailment and save your life.

Your doctor’s first priority would be to eliminate the infection completely from your body. The treatment will have to begin right away considering the severity of the disease. Your skin doctor could treat only skin infection if it’s very deep and debilitating you may be shifted to the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) of the hospital for treatments including:

  • Surgery, which is compulsory for complete removal of the infected tissues and fats from your body to stop it from spreading further. You may have to undergo several surgeries and your surgeon may have to amputate limbs or remove the compromised organs to avoid further damage.

  • Medications such as antibodies to kill the infection. These are often given in combination with surgery.

  • Procedures to treat complications including organ failure, shock and breathing troubles.

  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy in which you may be enclosed in a chamber while 100% oxygen is pumped in at high pressure, to increase your blood oxygen levels. This can prevent tissue death, help in healing and assist in fighting infections.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.
 
The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.
 
The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.



The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.