Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infections

Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infections

Necrotizing soft tissue infections (NSTI) are severe infections caused by bacteria invading the soft tissues of the body. These infections can cause rapid destruction of the soft tissue and sometimes even death. NSTI can affect the skin, subcutaneous tissue, deep fascia, muscle, or even organs. Some of the most common types of bacteria that cause NSTI include group A Streptococcus, Klebsiella, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, and Clostridium species.

NSTI are life-threatening and require urgent medical attention. Early signs include intense pain and swelling in the involved tissues, fever, and chills. As the infection progresses, the skin begins to change color, from red to brown or purple, and ulcers or blisters may develop. NSTI can also cause a rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure, confusion, and seizures. In some cases, sepsis can occur.

Diagnosis of NSTI is based on the patient's medical history, physical examination, laboratory tests, and imaging tests (such as an X-ray or CT scan). Treatment typically involves a combination of antibiotics, surgery, and supportive measures such as intravenous fluids and pain medications. In some cases, amputation of the affected limb may be necessary.


The most effective way to prevent NSTI is good hygiene and preventive care. People should wash their hands frequently and avoid sharing personal items such as towels, razors, and toothbrushes. If a wound is present, it should be kept clean and covered with a bandage to reduce the risk of infection. Proper wound quarantine and sterilization techniques should also be practiced to reduce the risk of transmitting infections.

Risk Factors

Anyone can get NSTI, but certain factors can increase a person's risk, including:

  • Having diabetes
  • Having poor blood circulation
  • Having a weakened immune system
  • Having chronic leg ulcers
  • Using injecting drugs
  • Being malnourished
  • Being exposed to extreme weather conditions
  • Having burns or other injuries that break the skin
  • Having a preexisting infection, such as a sore, abscess, or cellulitis

If any of the above risk factors are present, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible to reduce the risk of developing a life-threatening infection.