Health Information

Intertrigo

Intertrigo

Definition

Intertrigo is inflammation of the skin. It tends to occur in warm, moist areas of the body where 2 skin surfaces rub or press against each other. Such areas are called "skin folds."

Causes

Intertrigo affects the top layers of skin. It is caused by moisture, bacteria, or fungus in the folds of the skin. The affected areas of skin are usually pink to brown. If the skin is very moist, it may begin to break down. In severe cases, there may be a bad odor.

The condition is most common in people who are obese. It may also occur in people who must stay in bed or who wear medical devices such as artificial limbs, splints, and braces. These devices may trap moisture against the skin.

Intertrigo is common in warm, moist climates.

Home Care

It may help to lose weight and often change your body position. 

Other things you can do are:

  • Keep areas of folded skin open with dry towels.
  • Blow a fan on moist areas.
  • Wear loose clothing.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if:

  • The condition does not go away, even with good home care.
  • The area of affected skin spreads beyond a skin fold.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Your health care provider can tell if you have the condition by looking at your skin.

Other tests may include:

  • A skin scraping and a test called a KOH examination to rule out a fungal infection
  • Looking at your skin with a special lamp called a Wood's lamp, to rule out a bacterial infection called erythrasma
  • Rarely, a skin biopsy to confirm the diagnosis

Treatment options for intertrigo include:

  • Antibiotic or antifungal cream applied to the skin
  • Drying medicine, such as Domeboro soaks
  • Low-dose steroid cream
  • Creams that protect the skin

References

Habif TM. Superficial fungal infections. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2009:chap 13.

James WD, Berger TG, Elston DM. Bacterial infections. In: James WD, Berger TG, Elston DM, eds. Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 14.


Review Date: 12/2/2014
Reviewed By: Richard J. Moskowitz, MD, dermatologist in private practice, Mineola, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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