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Necrotizing Fasciitis: Care Instructions


Necrotizing fasciitis is a rare infection that kills skin, fat, and muscles. It is also called "flesh-eating" bacteria. It usually affects the legs and arms. It can cause scarring and can lead to amputation and death.

This condition is treated in a hospital. Treatment includes antibiotics and supportive care. Surgery is usually needed to remove dead or infected tissue, stop the spread of infection, and repair damage. Sometimes people are placed in a chamber with high levels of oxygen. This is called a hyperbaric chamber. It helps the tissue heal.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take your medicine exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Most people who get this condition are in good health before they get infected. You can lower your risk of infection by giving proper care to skin wounds.
    • Keep all wounds clean. This includes cuts, burns, sores, and bites.
    • If you strain a muscle or sprain a joint and get a fever, chills, and severe pain, seek medical care right away. These may be signs of deep soft tissue infection.
    • If you have severe pain and swelling and a fever, do not treat these with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen. These medicines may keep you from seeing a doctor quickly when you really need to.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have worse symptoms of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.