How do I survive necrotising fasciitis?
The key to surviving necrotising fasciitis is swift recognition and immediate treatment. High doses of antibiotics are usually required after diagnosis, but these on their own are insufficient to halt the infection.
The most important element of treatment is the surgical removal of the infected dead and dying tissue. If this is not done quickly, the infection continues to advance. Many patients who survive the first 48 hours need additional operations to remove further infected tissue.
Checking for Strep pyogenes
Sometimes it may be necessary to check relatives or others in contact with the patient to see if they are carrying the same strain of Strep. pyogenes.
This is normally done by taking nose and throat swabs. Contacts found to be carrying a Strep.pyogene strain may be treated with oral antibiotics.
The death rate for NF is still around 30-50%. Many people do not survive necrotising fasciitis. Survivors may need amputation because of extensive areas of tissue being destroyed. NF can be severely disfiguring, and patients may need plastic surgery and skin grafting to achieve the best result.
A skin graft is when damaged skin is removed and is replaced with healthy skin taken from another part of your body. Split skin grafts are the most common type of skin graft.
A donor area is where the skin is harvested or taken from another part of your body and used to cover the affected area. This area heals within 10 – 14 days. The skin is usually taken from the thighs, buttocks or other areas.
The graft will be secured in different ways for the different patients. It may be stapled, stitched or glued in place, or simply laid onto the area.
The donor area will usually be left for 10 – 14 days, but sometimes may be inspected with your graft. Often the donor area will ooze fluid and may smell this is quite normal.
As the healing process of the donor area continues you may experience some pain, and especially itching, when walking, and at other timed also.
As time goes on the dressing will dry out, harden and separate from the donor area, it may even fall off. This is also quite normal, as the dressing is designed to fall off when the donor site is healed.
After skin grafts, scar formation is inevitable. The scar will never look exactly like ordinary skin, but with proper care and medical management during the first 18 months after your burn, the scarring can be reduced to a low level.
Survivors of necrotising fasciitis have said that scars can take up to 18 months to mature. They usually leave only a pale, soft flat and supple scar.
During this time there are several important steps that may be taken to treat your scars, such as special exercises, creams, splints or pressure garments. All this will be made clear by the nursing staff prior to your discharge.
The grafted area is usually left dressed for five-seven days after the operation. It will be securely wrapped up with dressings. Some patients may also require cast to prevent additional movements.
Support for surviving necrotising fasciitis
If you would like to share your experiences with a fellow survivor, partner, family friend or those bereaved we are able to offer you support via a PRIVATE network forum on Facebook.
If you have questions about which haven’t been answered here, please contact us.