Fournier's Gangrene --Causes and Cures
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January 2, 2016

By Susan Callahan, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

Do you suffer from boils or abscesses in your groin area? Have you had
an infection near your rectal area?  If so, take especial care. Rectal or
groin area infections which are not properly cared for are the most
common trigger for a condition known a “Fournier’s gangrene”.  
Fournier’s gangrene affect the genital area of men. The gangrene itself
is caused directly by infectious bacteria  such as E. coli, Klebsiella sp.,
Proteus sp., and Peptostreptococcus.  Left untreated even for a few
hours, Fournier gangrene can be fatal.  

Fournier’s gangrene was discovered in 1883 by a French doctor
named  Jean Alfred Fournier who described a skin-eating infection that
rapidly spread to the penis and scrotum from then-mysterious causes.
Fournier’s gangrene was actually first mentioned by a scientist named
Baurienne in 1764, but it was Jean Alfred Fournier who first described
the condition in detail and thus gave it his name.

Signs That an Infection Is Fournier’s

Fournier’s usually has the following symptoms, according to a 2013
study from Wroclaw Medical University, Wrocław, Poland:

-genital discomfort

-pruritus as an early symptom

-scrotal edema

-genital erythema (lesions)

scrotal pain

-partial necrosis (dead skin)

-induration (fibrous tissue formation, hardened mass)


-feculent odor (foul-smell)


How Many Men Get Fournier's Gangrene?

Fournier’s gangrene affects 1.6 out of every 100,000 men, according to
a 2009 study from University of Washington School of Medicine in
Seattle. Women are rarely affected. The Seattle study examined hospital
admissions from 13 states in 2001 and from 21 states in 2004. The
study identified 1,641 cases of men with Fournier’s gangrene and only
39 women. This truly is a man’s disease.

The overall fatality rate for those with Fournier’s gangrene was 7.5% if
treated in the hospital. Untreated Fournier’s gangrene has a fatality
rate of up to 88%, a 2007 study from Souza Aguiar Municipal Hospital,
Rio de Janeiro, found.

What Are the Risk Factors for Fournier’s Gangrene?

Fournier’s gangrene starts with boils and abscesses, so the conditions
that make you more vulnerable to boils apply.  Boils are skin infections
caused by bacteria.  If you suffer from recurrent boils, you must clean
your skin, using a strong antibacterial soap. Your doctor may also
prescribe an anti-biotic to treat the infection.

Less well known is that Type 2 diabetes puts you at an increased risk
for boils and for Fournier’s gangrene. Scientists speculate that the
uncontrolled blood sugar environment degrades the ability of your
body’s immune system to fight infection.  

Up to 70% of all people with Fournier’s gangrene have Type 2
diabetes, according to a 2012 study led by scientists from Federal
University of Bahia, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.

In addition to interfering with your immune system’s ability to fight off
infection, diabetes also downgrades the natural anti-bacterial
properties of your urine, according to a 2012 study led by scientists
from Federal University of Bahia, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.  

You read that right. Your urine normally has anti-bacterial properties.
When diabetes lowers the anti-bacterial properties of your urine, the
bacteria that normally reside on your skin around your genitals is not
cleaned as well by the urine, and thus infections develop more easily.

In addition to diabetes and poor hygiene, the following are common
risk factors for Fournier’s gangrene:

steroid therapy

chronic alcohol abuse

older age

HIV infection

cardiac disorders

systemic lupus erythematosus,

renal failure

diseases of the peripheral arteries

chemotherapy and malignancies

Procedures That Put You At Greater Risk for Fournier’s

The following procedures put you at higher risk for Fournier’s
gangrene, according to 2006 study led by scientists from Barts and the
London Hospitals NHS Trust, UK:


•Urethral stricture

•Indwelling catheter

•Traumatic catheterisation

•Urethral calculi

•Prostatic biopsy


•Insertion of penile prosthesis

•TVT procedure

•Hydrocele aspiration

•Delayed rupture of ileal neobladder

•Intracavernosal cocaine injection

•Genital piercing

•Perineal trauma (including iatrogenic, mentioned above)


•Perianal abscess

•Rectal biopsy

•Anal dilatation


•Rectosigmoid malignancy




•Infected Bartholin's gland

•Septic abortion

•Episiotomy wound

•Coital injury

•Genital mutilation

Does Honey Help Stop the Spread of Fournier’s?

Few studies have identified natural remedies for this terrible, life-
threatening condition which requires immediate hospitalization. But one
study found that, in many cases of ulcer-type wounds that occur,
application of unprocessed honey helps. This study, in 2005 from the
University Teaching Hospital in Calabar, Nigeria, examined 59 cases of
patients with skin wounds and ulcers. Of the 59 cases, 58 showed
improvement after treatment with the honey. Importantly, honey
addressed the debrided skin --- surgically removed tissue -- helping to
replace the sloughs with new granulated tissue.

Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Your Risk for Fournier’s

Control Your Blood Sugar Levels. If you are already diabetic, you
should of course be under the treatment of a doctor for this condition.
Successful diabetes management includes daily testing of your blood
sugar levels, eating a low -carbohydrate, high fiber, lean protein (low
glycemic) diet and getting regular exercise.

Practice Proper Hygiene. Your skin requires daily cleansing to maintain
a low- bacteria level. Showering daily with soap and warm water,
treating all open cuts with antiseptic and proper bandages is a minimal
regime for skin care. Fecal ,matter should be cleaned from your anus.
Take note if you see brown streaks in your underwear. It may mean
you have fecal leakage which creates a high bacterial envirpnment.

Don’t Overdue Alcohol.  Chronic alcohol abuse is an independent risk
factor for Fournier’s gangrene.  Men should limit alcohol consumption
to one drink per day or less.


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Honey has been used to encourage new skin tissue to grow after
dead tissue is removed for gangrene.