Intertrigo is a rash that occurs in the skin folds, such as the armpits, under the breasts, and the inner thighs. It is very common, especially among overweight people or those with diabetes. It occurs due to an overgrowth of a normal body yeast called Candida albicans, which thrives and proliferates in the warm, moist environment of skin creases.

What are the symptoms of intertrigo?

The skin affected by intertrigo usually appears pink, brown, or red and can become inflamed and raw. It may also itch and ooze if the infection persists. Secondary bacterial infections may occur in broken or abraded skin. In severe cases, a foul odor may be present.

What causes intertrigo?

Intertrigo is caused by ongoing skin-to-skin contact, which causes chafing, especially in warm, moist skin. In addition, several skin conditions can lead to the development of intertrigo, including inverse psoriasis, Haily-Haily, pemphigus, and bullous pemphigoid.

How is intertrigo diagnosed?

Because intertrigo can resemble or be caused by other, more serious, skin conditions, a dermatologist or other health care provider should evaluate the condition. Usually the doctor can diagnose it just by its appearance, although a skin scraping, KOH exam, or a Wood’s lamp may be required to rule out fungal or bacterial infections.

How is it treated?

Many cases of intertrigo can be treated with over-the-counter antifungal medications, such as clotrimazole or miconazole. Your doctor might also recommend Burow’s solutions or moist compresses followed by cool air blown on affected areas. More persistent rashes may require a short-term course of prescription topical steroids, oral medications.

How can I prevent intertrigo?

These tips can help keep intertrigo from returning:

  • Keep affected areas clean, dry, and exposed to air whenever possible.
  • If you are overweight or obese, weight loss may provide some relief.
  • Keep a wad of soft, absorbent cotton in the affected areas to absorb sweat. An antiperspirant can help too, but don’t use one during outbreaks.
  • After gently washing and drying affected areas apply Zeasorb AF Powder.
  • Avoid tight clothing and abrasive fabrics. 
  • Avoid warm, humid conditions, such as hot weather or saunas.

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Last updated: 1/8/2019