Noma is a type of gangrene that destroys mucous membranes of the mouth and other tissues. It occurs in malnourished children in areas where sanitation and cleanliness are lacking.
Cancrum oris; Gangrenous stomatitis
The exact cause is unknown, but noma may be due to a certain kind of bacteria.
This disorder most often occurs in young, severely malnourished children between the ages of 2 to 5. Often they have had an illness such as measles, scarlet fever, tuberculosis, or cancer. They may also have a weakened immune system.
Risk factors include:
Noma causes sudden tissue destruction that rapidly gets worse. First, the gums and lining of the cheeks become inflamed and develop sores (ulcers). The ulcers develop a foul-smelling drainage, causing bad breath and skin odor.
The infection spreads to the skin, and the tissues in the lips and cheeks die. This can eventually destroy the soft tissue and bone. The destruction of the bones around the mouth causes deformity of the face and loss of teeth.
Noma can also affect the genitals, spreading to the genital skin (this is sometimes called noma pudendi).
Antibiotics and proper nutrition helps stop the disease from getting worse. Plastic surgery may be necessary to remove destroyed tissues and reconstruct facial bones. This will improve facial appearance and the function of the mouth and jaw.
Denise Mayer-Baratti is in Geneve, Switzerland. Mayer-Baratti is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Noma. She is also highly rated in 2 other conditions, according to our data. Her top areas of expertise are Noma, Gangrene, Necrosis, and Diarrhea.
Elise Farley is in Cape Town, South Africa. Farley is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Noma. She is also highly rated in 2 other conditions, according to our data. Her top areas of expertise are Noma, Gangrene, HIV/AIDS, and Measles.
Dinh-thuan Do is in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam. Do is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Noma. They are also highly rated in 1 other condition, according to our data. Their top area of expertise is Noma.
In some cases, this condition can be deadly if it is not treated. Other times, the condition may heal over time, even without treatment. However, it can cause severe scarring and deformity.
These complications can occur:
Medical care is needed if mouth sores and inflammation occur and persist or get worse.
Improving nutrition, cleanliness, and sanitation may help.
Published Date : April 14, 2021
Published By : Charles I. Schwartz, MD, FAAP, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, General Pediatrician at PennCare for Kids, Phoenixville, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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Chow AW. Infections of the oral cavity, neck, and head. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 64.
Kim W. Disorders of the mucous membranes. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM. eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 684.