When most of us think of bath salts, we picture something we add to a hot bath to help soothe our tired minds and bodies–not something that could result in a flesh-eating bacteria. But, that’s what happened to a 34-year-old woman who injected the stimulant drug called “bath salts”–not to be confused with the kind that we pour in our tub.
Reported in the journal Orthopedics, the New Orleans woman showed up at the hosptial with a painful, swollen arm after attending a party. Doctors said she had a skin infection from a small puncture wound and put her on antibiotics, which seemed to help for a couple of days, but then the woman returned to the hospital saying the swelling had returned. That’s when she finally confessed that she had injected the bath salts into her body–something that is normally snorted or smoked (apparently injecting it gets it into the bloodstream quicker though).
The story only gets worse. Apparently the infection was bad enough at this point that doctors had to cut open her forearm to see what was going on. They discovered a serious, life-threatening infection and dead muscle. As they continued cutting farther up her arm to try to find healthy tissue, the infection was spreading so fast they could see flesh dying right before their eyes. As a result, the doctors had to amputate her right arm, shoulder and breast to stop the infection from spreading to the rest of her body.
If this case isn’t enough to get people to stop injecting themselves with this–or any–drug, I don’t know what is. The Drug Enforcement Administration already banned bath salts last fall, but apparently people are still able to get a hold of the stimulant which is sold in powder or crystal form under names like Bliss, Purple Wave, Vanilla Sky and Ivory Wave.
Robert Russo, an orthopedic resident who treated the woman, said bath salts are a dangerous drug, for sure:
When you’re out in the street with these drugs the risk is significantly higher. It’s one of those horrible things that starts out as no big deal. Then the person ends up losing an extremity. This woman’s nightmarish experience is just one more reason to stay away from it.
We agree. Keep the bath salts in the tub and out of your arm.