Dry gangrene involves limited tissue death due to loss of adequate blood supply. Always bear in mind that the bodily tissues are sustained by continuous provision of oxygen and vital nutrients transported by the blood which also transports away the tissue waste products.
Poor blood supply due to atherosclerosis, trauma or a blood clot can cause death of the affected tissues. The development of atherosclerosis of the arteries in the extremities is known as peripheral arterial disease. This condition is the leading cause for the development of dry gangrene. Being familiar with the early signs of dry gangrene as well as starting immediate treatment can prevent tissue death.
During the early phase of dry gangrene, the tissues undergo the effects of diminished oxygen and the accumulation of waste products but stay alive. These factors typically trigger pain which is characterized as aching and dull. Over time, the pain subsides to give way to unresponsiveness as the nerve tissues die.
Changes in the skin color
Once the supply of blood diminishes, the skin of the affected area might appear dark red if positioned below the heart. In case the area is propped to a position above the heart, it rapidly blanches to an unnaturally white color.
Once the supply of blood is fully obstructed, the affected area has a pale appearance. Take note that this will undergo a subsequent series of color changes as the dead tissue starts to decay.
If there is inadequate blood supply to an area of skin, it is cool to the touch. Once you place one hand on the affected area and the other on an area with normal blood supply, you can readily distinguish an evident difference in the temperature. As dry gangrene progresses and the tissues die, the affected area becomes cool.
Skin ulcers from dry gangrene
Always bear in mind that dry gangrene is often signaled by the formation of one or more skin ulcers. These ulcers can be painful and surrounded by a black border of dead tissue. Take note that this tissue might be an indication for potential loss of tissue in the area.
The depth of the ulcer is an indicator of the likelihood for the development of full-blown dry gangrene that requires amputation.
Considerations to bear in mind
If the individual experiences any indications of dry gangrene, it is vital to seek immediate medical care. Immediate treatment must be started to help improve the chance for successful management of the condition.