Gangrene is a medical condition where there is tissue death in a certain area of the body.
This occurs when there is reduced or an absence of blood supply to the affected area which can be a result of infection, vascular diseases such as peripheral arterial disease (PAD), or trauma. Gangrene can occur anywhere in the body but it occurs commonly at the feet where it is the easiest to have reduced or absent blood supply.
Gangrene is one of the many complications of Diabetes. High blood sugar levels will cause damage to the nerves and blood vessels; there would be a loss of sensation and reduced blood supply to the feet, resulting in poor wound healing and being more prone to infection. This combination can lead to gangrene of the feet.
There are several types of gangrene, with the two major types being dry and wet gangrene.
- Occurs when there is a disruption of blood supply to the tissues
- Affected area will appear red before turning brown and black
- The skin will appear dry and mummified
- Usually, the tissues will not be infected
- Occurs when there is a disruption of blood supply with infection to the tissues
- The tissues will appear soft and moist
- Foul odour present
- Affected areas are cold and brown to black
- Patches of blistering, ulcers and heavy fluid discharge
- Occurs when there is an infection in the body with gas produced from microbial toxins
- Tissues will swell and appear brown to red in colour
Gangrene is a major complication of diabetes and is considered a clinical emergency, as it often leads to amputation in a matter of days or even death.
If you start to notice your skin turns to blue or black or if there is a persistent wound after 7 days and there is foul odour with fluid discharge, then please seek urgent medical care.