Diabetic arterial disease, showing gangrene and ulcerations of the toes.Gangrene is a hazardous condition that can lead to limb amputation or premature death.

Gangrene is the death of your bodily tissues caused by lack of blood flow; a severe bacterial infection; or severe trauma, such as a gunshot wound, burn, or frostbite. The prognosis for gangrene is better the earlier it's caught, though.

The types of gangrene are:

  • Wet. Swelling, blistering and wet appearance; common in diabetes
  • Dry. Dry, shriveled skin that changes in color; common in diabetes
  • Gas. Skin appears normal; usually caused by bacterial infection
  • Internal. Occcurs when blood flow to organs is slowed or stopped

How Can I Tell If I Have Gangrene?

If you have diabetes, you are at increased risk for gangrene. Diabetic neuropathy makes you less sensitive to pain, heat, cold, vibrations, and pressure, so you may not notice when you seriously injure your feet. A minor condition, such as an ingrown toenail, can be life-threatening if you have diabetic neuropathy. Because you don’t feel any pain, you may not realize how severe the injury is. The toenail could become infected without your noticing. If your circulation is also poor, gangrene can develop in the toe.

Signs that you have gangrene include:

  • Sudden onset of pain in feet, toes, or legs
  • Cold skin temperature
  • Color changes in the skin: pale, blue, purple, black, bronze, or red
  • Swelling
  • Blisters or bubbly-looking skin
  • Foul-smelling discharge from a sore or wound
  • Skin that becomes shiny, hairless, or thin

You must seek emergency medical care if you notice any of these changes.

Signs that gangrene has spread to your bloodstream and has induced septic shock include:

  • Fever (high temperature) or lower-than-normal temperature
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty breathing

You must receive emergency medical care.

What Are the Best Treatments for Gangrene?

Gangrene requires immediate medical treatment to avoid amputation, septic shock, or death. The expert podiatrists at Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists treat gangrene by surgically removing the gangrenous tissue.

Your podiatrist can assess your condition and recommend treatment to improve circulation and reinfuse the area with blood. Co-therapies include hyperbaric oxygen treatment and intravenous antibiotics.

Do not take chances: If you suspect you may have gangrene, or if you have an injury accompanied by diabetic neuropathy, contact the experts at Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists for immediate treatment.