CPR First Aid

Gangrene Treatment, Management and Prevention

Gangrene Treatment, Management and Prevention

Gangrene is a rare but serious medical condition that can occur when the blood supply to an area of the body is cut off. Without treatment, gangrene can lead to infection and death. Although gangrene can occur in any part of the body, it is most commonly seen in the extremities, such as the toes or fingers. In this blog post, we will discuss the causes of gangrene, its symptoms, and treatment options. We will also look at ways to prevent gangrene from developing in the first place.

What is Gangrene?

Gangrene is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when body tissue dies. Gangrene can occur in any type of tissue, but it most commonly affects the skin and underlying muscles.

Types of Gangrene

There are two main types of gangrene: dry gangrene and wet gangrene. In dry gangrene, the tissue dies as a result of the interruption of the blood flow to the affected area. Wet gangrene occurs when the tissue is infected with bacteria, which can cause the tissue to swell and break down. Wet gangrene is usually more serious than dry gangrene and can be life-threatening if not treated promptly.

Causes of Tissue Death

Blood supply to the affected area can be brought about by the following scenarios.

  1. Poor circulation can also lead to gangrene. This can be caused by diabetes, peripheral artery disease, or Raynaud’s disease.
  2. Infection is another common cause of gangrene. Bacteria can enter the body through a wound or surgery and begin to multiply, causing the tissue to die.
  3. Gangrene can also be caused by exposure to certain chemicals or toxins, such as gasoline, kerosene, and lye.
  4. Frostbite is another type of gangrene that can occur when the skin and tissues are exposed to extreme cold.
  5. Radiation therapy can also cause gangrene, as it damages the blood vessels and prevents them from carrying oxygen to the tissues.
  6. Gangrene can also be a complication of certain diseases, such as diabetes, leprosy and cancer.
  7. Finally, gangrene can be caused by physical trauma, such as a crushing injury.

Risk Factors for Gangrene

There are several groups of people who are at an increased risk of developing gangrene. These include:

People with Diabetes

Diabetes can cause nerve damage and poor blood circulation, both of which increase the risk for gangrene.

People with Peripheral Artery Disease

Raynaud’s disease is a condition that narrows the arteries that supply blood to the extremities, which can lead to gangrene.

Elderly people

Age-related changes in the body can lead to a decreased ability to fight off infection, increasing the risk for gangrene.

People with a weakened immune system

This includes people with HIV/AIDS, cancer, or those who are taking certain medications that suppress the immune system.


Smoking decreases blood circulation and increases the risk for gangrene.

People who have had previous surgery

Surgical procedures can sometimes damage blood vessels or nerves.

People who have sustained trauma

Trauma to the extremities can crush blood vessels and nerves.

People who have had a previous infection

Bacterial infections can sometimes damage blood vessels or nerves.

Gangrene Incidents in Australia

Gangrene is a relatively rare condition in Australia including Queensland, affecting only a small number of people each year. However, it can be a serious condition if not treated promptly and correctly. Early diagnosis and treatment of gangrene are therefore essential.

CPR First Aid RTO 21903, is a leading provider of first aid training in Southport and other QLD locations. As part of the accredited courses, the theories and concepts are taught online and physical classes are dynamic and have varied emergency scenarios to best prepare their participants when the need arises. Feel free to send us your enquiries about our courses.

Warning Signs and Symptoms

If a person experiences any of these signs or symptoms, medical attention should be sought immediately. Gangrene can spread quickly and lead to life-threatening complications, such as sepsis or death. The common signs and symptoms are:

  • Skin that is pale, mottled, blue, or black
  • Swelling in the affected area
  • A feeling of numbness or tingling in the affected area
  • Pain or a feeling of pressure in the affected area
  • Blisters or ulcers on the skin
  • Foul-smelling drainage from the affected area
  • Fever

Gangrene Treatment

There are multiple treatments for gangrene, depending on the severity of the condition. If the gangrene is limited to a small area of skin, it can be treated with antibiotics and dressings. More severe cases may require surgery to remove the dead tissue. In some cases, amputation may be necessary.

The goal of treatment for gangrene is to stop the spread of infection and promote healing, thus it typically involves antibiotics in combination with these other procedures to clear the infection and surgery to remove the dead tissue.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a treatment in which a person inhales 100% pure oxygen while inside a chamber that is pressurised to three times the normal atmospheric pressure.

HBOT increases the amount of oxygen in the blood, which can help to speed up the healing process and promote the growth of new blood vessels. It is often used to treat wounds that are not healing properly, as well as infections and gangrene.

HBOT has been shown to be an effective treatment for gangrene, particularly when the condition is caused by poor circulation or diabetes.

Surgical Debridement

Debridement is the medical term for the removal of dead or damaged tissue from a wound. It is an important part of the healing process, as it helps to prevent infection and promote new tissue growth. Gangrene is a condition in which the tissues of the body die due to a lack of blood flow. Gangrene can be treated by debridement, which removes the dead tissue and encourages recovery.

Debridement is usually followed by a course of antibiotics to prevent infection. Surgery may also be necessary to repair any damage caused by the gangrene.


Amputation for gangrene is the removal of a part of the body, usually a limb or digit, that has been severely infected with bacteria. Gangrene is often caused by poor circulation, which allows bacteria to grow and spread. Amputation is typically the last resort after all other methods (such as antibiotics and surgery) have failed.

While amputation may seem like a drastic measure, it is often the best way to save the life of a person with gangrene. Amputation can also help prevent the spread of infection to other parts of the body.

Treatment of gangrene can be a lengthy and complicated process, but it is important to seek medical help as soon as possible to improve the chances of a successful outcome.

How to Prevent Gangrene Development?

There are several ways to prevent gangrene, including:

  • keeping the skin clean and free of cuts or scrapes
  • prompt treatment of any wounds
  • controlling diabetes and other conditions that can cause poor circulation
  • not smoking
  • eating a healthy diet
  • exercising regularly
  • avoiding exposure to cold temperatures
  • wearing proper footwear

If a person has a condition that puts him or her at risk for gangrene, it’s important to seek prompt medical treatment for any wounds or infections.

First Aid for Gangrene

If you suspect someone has gangrene in an emergency, do these right away:

  1. Call triple zero (000) or your local Southport emergency number.
  2. Clean the wound and remove any dead tissue with sterile gauze.
  3. Apply a clean bandage to the wound.
  4. Elevate the affected limb to reduce swelling.
  5. Provide the person with pain relief medication if necessary.
  6. Transport the person to the hospital as soon as possible for further treatment.

Following the above first aid, steps can help to improve the person’s chances of recovery.

Acquiring a first aid certification at Southport 4215′ or ‘Cnr Ferry Rd and, Cotlew St E, Southport 4215 can be done within a few hours with CPR First Aid. Our nationally accredited courses have been tailored and developed in a way to match the latest qualifications in the workplace. For more information, give us a call and we’ll be happy to assist you.

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