Infections - Prevention, Diagnosis & Treatment

Gangrene: What are its Types, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment?

By S.I. (staff writer) , published on January 11, 2024

Medicine Telehealth Health infection diabetes

What is Gangrene?


The death of body tissue due to bacterial infection and lack of oxygen is known as gangrene. The most common bacteria that causes gangrene is the Clostridium species [1]. It usually affects the extremities such as arms, legs, toes, and fingers. It can also affect the muscles and organs such as the gallbladder.


The tissue loss due to gangrene significantly impacts life quality due to limited mobility and greater chances of hospitalization.




What are the Types of Gangrene?


Gangrene is identified by blackening and sloughing of the natural tissue. There are many types of gangrene, the three main types are [3]:


  • Gas gangrene: Gas gangrene is caused by bacterial infections.


  • Dry Gangrene: Dry gangrene is caused by reduced blood flow due to atherosclerosis or peripheral arterial disease.


  • Wet Gangrene: Wet gangrene disrupts the blood flow and is caused by a bacterial infection. It is identified by blisters that release pus.




What are the Symptoms of Gangrene?


The signs and symptoms of skin affected with gangrene are [3]:


  • Skin Discoloration varies from pale grey to blue, purple, black, or red.
  • Blisters
  • Sores or Ulcers
  • Swelling
  • Foul-smelling discharge from the sore
  • Pain followed by numbness
  • Skin that feels cool to the touch
  • Edema
  • Malaise
  • Crackling Sound when you press your skin (this signals that there is gas in your tissue) especially in bacterial infection


If gangrene affects internal tissues the patient presents with the symptoms of low-grade fever and the feeling of being unwell.


If the germs and toxins of gangrene spread widely in the body, septic shock can occur. Septic shock is a fatal condition and requires immediate treatment. The symptoms of gangrene with septic shock are:


  • Low blood pressure
  • Tachycardia (Increased heart rate)
  • Anorexia (Shortness of breath)
  • Confusion
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fever




What are the Causes of Gangrene?

Gangrene is the loss of blood supply to the affected part. The causes of gangrene are several, which includes [4]:


  • Certain injuries such as car accidents, gunshot wounds, and severe burns can cause gangrene.


  • Poor circulation is the leading cause of gangrene. Diseases such as atherosclerosis and peripheral arterial diseases increase the risk of gangrene.


  • Diabetes damages the nerves and blood vessels, especially in the peripheral area. It also causes the wounds to heal slowly and put them at a higher risk of bacterial infection. It can result in gangrene.


  • Suppressed immune systems due to HIV or chemotherapy are the leading cause of gangrene.




What are the Treatment Options for Gangrene?


The treatment option for gangrene depends on the type of gangrene. However, immediate treatment is needed in all cases of gangrene. The treatment options for all cases of gangrene are as follows [5]:


  • Surgery
  • Medical Treatment
  • Supportive care
  • Rehabilitation
  • Prevention






Find articles related to: Medicine Telehealth Health infection diabetes

More articles about Infections - Prevention, Diagnosis & Treatment

Back to the Health Tips Index