What Is the Infection?
The most common cause of skin infections are Staphylococcus aureus (staph) and Streptococcus pyogenes (strep). These two types of bacteria live on your skin and can be found everywhere: on your hands, feet, under fingernails, in wounds and sores, etc. They are usually harmless but sometimes they can become infected causing a skin infection called staph or strep throat. Staph and strep can also cause other kinds of infections such as pneumonia, meningitis, otitis media (ear infection), sinus infections, etc. If left untreated these bacteria can lead to death.
How Do You Get It?
Staph and strep are normally spread through contact with someone who has an active case of either type of bacteria. A person may have only one strain or she may carry several strains which make her susceptible to getting both types of bacteria.
Infections caused by staph and strep can occur when you touch something contaminated with either type of bacteria. For example, if you touch your nose while holding a cut finger, then your body will naturally pick up the germs from the cut finger and pass them on to your mouth. You may not even realize that you have been exposed until it is too late.
The bacteria can also spread through contaminated food and water. This is why it is important to be careful when preparing and eating food or drinking out of a public water fountain.
How Do You Protect Yourself?
Even if you are careful every moment of the day, you can still pick up the bacteria.
So what can you do to protect yourself from harm?
One of the best ways to protect yourself is good handwashing. Always wash your hands after coughing or sneezing into them and always wash your hands before eating or preparing food. Also, be sure to keep all cuts and wounds clean and covered at all times. If you do get a wound or cut, be sure to seek immediate medical attention.
Another way to protect yourself is to always get vaccinated. Talk to your doctor about getting the vaccines for the common types of staph and strep bacteria.
Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Freak Out Over ‘Flesh-Eating’ Bacteria.
‘Flesh-eating’ bacteria tends to get a bad rap in the media. Several bacteria have been labeled as “flesh-eating,” but the most well-known are Group A streptococcus (GAS) and necrotizing fasciitis. This is just another case of the media exaggerating an illness, which can cause more harm than good.
Necrotizing fasciitis, also known as flesh-eating disease, affects the fascia, or the tissue just beneath the skin. It is a serious bacterial infection that causes the body’s soft tissue to die. The necrotizing starts at the surface of the skin and works its way into the body. It spreads quickly and kills healthy tissue.
Necrotizing fasciitis is extremely painful and can be life-threatening if left untreated.
What Is Necrotizing Fasciitis?
Necrotizing fasciitis is a rare, but serious bacterial infection. It is also known as “flesh-eating disease,” because it kills the body’s soft tissue. The infection can spread quickly and destroy healthy tissue.
The flesh-eating disease is caused by Group A streptococcus (GAS), a type of bacteria that can be found in the throat and on the skin. Most people have no symptoms when they carry the bacteria. However, some people who carry the bacteria develop red patches of skin that feel warm to the touch. The infection can spread throughout the body quickly, so medical attention is immediately necessary if these symptoms are present.
Most of the time, an injury or surgical wound can cause the bacteria to get into the blood and then infect a healthy person. GAS can also be introduced through the digestive tract when someone eats food that has been contaminated with animal feces.
Necrotizing fasciitis is most common in people with a weakened immune system, such as those who have diabetes, cancer, or HIV/AIDS. The elderly are also at risk of developing the flesh-eating disease.
The infection is extremely rare, but it tends to occur during the summertime. It is more common in regions with hot, humid weather.
What Are the Symptoms of Necrotizing Fasciitis?
The symptoms of necrotizing fasciitis are similar to other types of skin infections. The most common symptoms are:
Getting injured or having an operation
Blisters or bumps that appear red at the center
Swelling and pain in the infected area
Fever over 100 degrees F
Chills, tiredness, and a general feeling of illness
Swelling or red streaks traveling from the wound toward other parts of the body
2o Be Wary of Skin Infections That Appear After an Injury or Operation.
If you have an injury or an operation on your skin, it’s important to watch for signs of possible infection. This is especially true if you notice swelling, redness, or warmth around the wound after an injury or operation. If you have any questions about whether you should seek medical help, do not hesitate to call your doctor’s office.
You should seek immediate medical attention if you notice any of the following symptoms:
An unexplained fever (temperature over 100.4 degrees F).
Chills or a general feeling of illness.
Red streaks traveling from the wound toward other parts of your body.
Swelling or redness around the wound that does not go away.
How Is Necrotizing Fasciitis Treated?
Necrotizing fasciitis is often misdiagnosed by physicians who do not suspect it, because its symptoms are similar to other skin infections. It is extremely important to seek immediate medical attention if you notice symptoms of the flesh-eating disease.
To treat the infection, doctors begin by giving the patient antibiotics and antiviral drugs. Surgery is usually necessary to remove the dead tissue and kill remaining bacteria. Skin grafts may also be used to replace dead tissue with healthy skin.
Are You at Risk for Necrotizing Fasciitis?
Anyone can get necrotizing fasciitis, but certain factors can increase your risk of developing it. For instance, people over 50 are at a greater risk because their immune systems begin to weaken as they age. People who have diabetes, cancer, or HIV/AIDS are also more likely to develop the flesh-eating disease. Those who have weakened skin, such as from a rash, injury, or surgery, may be more susceptible to the infection.
You can greatly reduce your risk of developing necrotizing fasciitis by practicing good hygiene and keeping your skin protected. Do not touch any open wounds or sores you may have, and wash your hands thoroughly to prevent the spread of bacteria. You should also avoid swimming in natural bodies of water to prevent infection through cuts or scrapes. Finally, wear protective clothing while engaging in activities that could lead to an injury.
You may also want to enroll in a first-aid course, which usually includes lessons on how to prevent and treat minor skin infections.
Necrotizing fasciitis is a rare but serious infection that can quickly destroy healthy tissue. The best way to protect yourself from the infection is to practice good hygiene and avoid getting injured or sick. If you do notice signs of necrotizing fasciitis or any other skin infection, seek immediate medical attention.
Sources & references used in this article:
Pregnancy sucks: What to do when your miracle makes you miserable by J Kimes, L Young – 2011 – books.google.com