Definition

What is Fournier’s gangrene?

When many people hear the term “gangrene,” they may think of toes or fingers being affected by hypothermia, which means the person’s body temperature has dropped, and remained, below 95 degrees. But with Fournier’s gangrene, your genitals and the area around them are affected. And hypothermia doesn’t cause it.

Gangrene happens when body tissue is dead or is dying (known as necrosis) because of a lack of blood flow or a bacterial infection.

Fournier’s gangrene involves an infection in the scrotum (which includes the testicles), penis, or perineum. The perineum is the area between the scrotum and anus for a man; or the area between the anus and vulva for a woman. The dead or dying tissue in people with this type of gangrene is often found in the genitals and can stretch to the thighs, stomach, and chest.

The syndrome is named for Jean Alfred Fournier, a French venereologist (venereal disease specialist), who first described it in 1883.

How common is Fournier’s gangrene?

Fournier’s gangrene is rare. While it’s more common in men, women and children also can get it.

The disease is most often found in men between the ages of 50 and 60. Men are 10 times more likely than women to have Fournier’s gangrene.

Fournier’s gangrene is even rarer in children.

Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

 

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of Fournier’s gangrene?

The common symptoms of Fournier’s gangrene are

  • Fever
  • Pain and swelling in the genitals or anal area
  • Unpleasant odor coming from the affected skin tissue
  • Crackling sound when touching the affected area
  • Dehydration
  • Anemia

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes Fournier’s gangrene?

Fournier’s gangrene usually happens because of an infection in, or near, your genitals. Sources of the infection can include:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Bladder infections
  • Hysterectomies
  • Abscesses (swollen body tissue that contains pus)

In children, the causes can include:

  • Insect bites
  • Burns
  • Circumcision

Risk factors

What increases my risk for Fournier’s gangrene?

There are many risk factors for Fournier’s gangrene, such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Trauma to the genital area
  • Steroids
  • Chemotherapy
  • HIV
  • Obesity
  • Cirrhosis (a liver disease)

Doctors can find the cause of Fournier’s gangrene in about 90% of the cases.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is Fournier’s gangrene diagnosed?

Please consult with your doctor for further information.

How is Fournier’s gangrene treated?

You should see a doctor immediately. Treatments include:

  • Antibiotics given by IV (through your veins).
  • Surgery to remove the dead and dying tissue and to confirm the diagnosis.

You may also need reconstructive surgery after your infection is under control. And some people need colostomies (for getting rid of poop) and catheters (for getting rid of pee), depending on the area that’s affected. Some people also need hyperbaric oxygen therapy – this means you are given pure oxygen while in a pressurized room.

You may also get a tetanus shot if you have an injury.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage Fournier’s gangrene?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you lower your chance of getting Fournier’s gangrene:

If you have diabetes, check your genitals and surrounding areas for wounds or signs of infection, as well as for swelling or drainage.

If you are obese or even just overweight, try to lose some weight.

If you smoke or chew tobacco, stop. Tobacco use can damage blood vessels.

To lower your risk of infection, wash open wounds with soap and water and keep them dry and clean until they heal.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

 

Sources

Review Date: January 29, 2018 | Last Modified: January 29, 2018

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