DOI: 10.1097/mcc.0000000000001069 ISSN:

Severe skin infections

Camille Windsor, Tomas Urbina, Nicolas de Prost
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine

Purpose of review

The incidence of necrotizing soft-tissue infections (NSTI) has increased during recent decades. These infections are still associated with high morbidity and mortality, underlining a need for continued education of the medical community. This review will focus on practical approaches to management of NSTI focusing on antibiotic therapies and optimizing the management of group A streptococcus (GAS)-associated NSTIs.

Recent findings

Antibiotic therapy for NSTI patients faces several challenges as the rapid progression of NSTIs mandates broad-spectrum agents with bactericidal action. Current recommendations support using clindamycin in combination with penicillin in case of GAS-documented NSTIs. Linezolide could be an alternative in case of clindamycin resistance.


Reducing the time to diagnosis and first surgical debridement, initiating early broad-spectrum antibiotics and early referral to specialized centres are the key modifiable factors that may impact the prognosis of NSTIs. Causative organisms vary widely according to the topography of the infection, underlying conditions, and geographic location. Approximately one third of NSTIs are monomicrobial, involving mainly GAS or Staphylococcus aureus. Data for antibiotic treatment specifically for necrotizing soft-tissue infections are scarce, with guidelines mainly based on expert consensus.

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