In the world of wound care, there are a few types of necrotizing infections, which we’ll discuss below. In this article we’ll also discuss necrotizing fasciitis in general and how it’s different from a spider bite. So, let’s get right into it.
First of all, the two present differently in the beginning. Necrotizing fasciitis is an infection, similar to a form of cellulitis and will spread rapidly, killing the body’s soft tissue. On the other hand, spider bites change the color of the skin from its natural pigmentation to red, white, and even blue. As a result, patients may experience nausea, vomiting, pain, cramping, diarrhea, and fever. Another difference between the two is the treatment of each and the way antibiotics are used to help. While necrotizing fasciitis and spider bites are different things, they are similar in nature and both require immediate intervention.
What is Necrotizing Fasciitis?
As defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC, necrotizing fasciitis is a bacterial infection that acts quickly, spreading to the body’s soft tissue and destroying skin cells, subcutaneous fat and fascia along the way. The condition is caused by more than one type of bacteria, though Strep A is the most common cause.
Bacteria that Causes Necrotizing Fasciitis
- Streptococcus A, otherwise known as Strep A
- E. coli
- Staphylococcus aureus
- Aeromonas hydrophila
In addition to the bacterias listed above, necrotizing fasciitis requires a break in the skin. That may be a cut, scrape, burn, or another puncture type of wound, including a bite from an insect. Any break in the skin could be the cause of necrotizing fasciitis, though it is not common. When this condition is caused by a break in the skin, the patient has either a lowered immune system or a decreased ability to fight bacteria – or a combination of both. In this case, when the bacteria gets introduced to the patient’s skin and they are unable to fight it off.
Now, let’s discuss the three types of necrotizing fasciitis.
What are the 3 Types of Necrotizing Fasciitis?
- Type 1 – Type one necrotizing fasciitis is the result of anaerobic bacteria and aerobic bacteria, from the Clostridium and Bacteroides species.
- Type 2 – The second type of this condition contains group A Streptococcus with or without a staphylococcal infection. As stated above, A Streptococcus is the most commonly found form of necrotizing fasciitis.
- Type 3 – The third type is called “Vibrio infection” and it relates to an infected wound or eating contaminated food, including contaminated fish or contaminated insects.
What is Phagocytosis?
Necrotizing fasciitis is an infection that spreads by the process of phagocytosis, which is a natural occurrence that utilizes the immune system to spread bacteria through vessel walls by closing off the hypoxic conditions and facilitating the growth of aerobic organisms into anaerobic. Once the bacteria is in the system, it starts to break down all of the surrounding cells, releasing a slew of toxins and other byproducts, including h20, methane, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, nitrogen, and hydrogen sulfide. Unfortunately, the patient becomes septic once the toxins flow through the bloodstream, fascia, and muscle compartments.
What are the Comorbidities?
There are certain comorbidities that make necrotizing fasciitis worse. They are:
- Chronic renal failure
- Recent surgery
- Recent trauma
- Immunosuppressive therapy
- Organ failure
Treatment for Necrotizing Fasciitis?
A patient with necrotizing fasciitis should always go to the hospital or immediately see their doctor. They may need an immediate course of antibiotics or surgical debridement.
Identifying Spider Bites
Spiders are an amazing species, with more than 3,500 different varieties in the United States alone. While spiders don’t call every US state home, they are found throughout the land. The most dangerous US-based spiders are Black Widows and Brown Recluse spiders. While not all bites from these spiders are fatal, they do lead to illness and may require medical intervention.
More About the Brown Recluse
The brown recluse spider is more formally called the Loxosceles Reclusa. The arachnid can be identified by its violin shaped back. While a brown recluse spider bite may go unnoticed for a while, as it starts off painless, eventually symptoms begin to appear. A bite victim will begin to feel pain, fever, and headache a few hours after the bite occurs. They may also feel burning at the site of the bite, as well as some other type of irritation. The pain will eventually become severe, blistering, and red. Though, this isn’t always the case. For some, pain never starts. The reaction a patient has to a spider bite differs. Everybody is different. Another possible occurrence is the formation of pimple-like lesions that are filled with a yellow or green pus. A rash may or may not occur at the same time.
Treatment for a Brown Recluse Spider Bite
The patient may be treated with antibiotics, steroids, or another antivenom-type remedy. It will also be recommended that they elevate and ice the wound. If the wound becomes necrotic, or infected by bacteria, then doctors will need to clean the wound bed with surgery. Removing necrotic tissue is a process that takes time and patience. The wound dressing used on each individual patient depends on the condition of their wound and their ability to heal.
More About the Black Widow
The black widow spider, known formally to scientists as the genus Latrodectus, can be identified by a bright red hourglass marking on the abdomen. While spider bites of this type are not fatal, certain populations should be aware, including the elderly, the young, and people with comorbidities. When a black widow bites, it injects the patient with a poisonous venom – but that venom is not necrotizing. Soon after getting bit, the person will experience headaches and stomach pain. In a few days, those symptoms will subside. As treatment, patients should ice the wound. This type of bite usually happens at night, while the patient is sleeping.
Necrotizing fasciitis and spider bites are different because of how the wound is identified and treated. It is absolutely necessary to seek immediate treatment in a hospital or wound care facility. Prompt care is needed because a loss of time could endanger the patient’s life or lead to further issues.