What is Intertrigo

Intertrigo is skin irritation or inflammation (dermatitis) that occurs when folds of skin rub together. The irritation can cause a rash and make skin raw and itchy. This condition most commonly occurs in the skin folds of these areas:

  • Toes.
  • Armpits.
  • Groin.
  • Belly.
  • Breasts.
  • Buttocks.

Intertrigo is not passed from person to person (is not contagious).

What are the causes?

This condition is caused by heat, moisture, friction, and lack of air circulation. The condition can be made worse by:

  • Sweat.
  • Bacteria or a fungus, such as yeast.

What increases the risk?

This condition is more likely to occur if you have moisture in your skin folds. It is also more likely to develop in people who:

  • Have diabetes.
  • Are overweight.
  • Are on bed rest.
  • Live in a warm and moist climate.
  • Wear splints, braces, or other medical devices.
  • Are not able to control their bowels or bladder (have incontinence).

What are the signs or symptoms?

Symptoms of this condition include:

  • A pink or red skin rash.
  • Brown patches on the skin.
  • Raw or scaly skin.
  • Itchiness.
  • A burning feeling.
  • Bleeding.
  • Leaking fluid.
  • A bad smell.

How is this diagnosed?

This condition is diagnosed with a medical history and physical exam. You may also have a skin swab to test for bacteria or a fungus, such as yeast.

How is this treated?

Treatment may include:

  • Cleaning and drying your skin.
  • An oral antibiotic medicine or antibiotic skin cream for a bacterial infection.
  • Antifungal cream or pills for an infection that was caused by a fungus, such as yeast.
  • Steroid ointment to relieve itchiness and irritation.

Follow these instructions at home:

  • Keep the affected area clean and dry.
  • Do not scratch your skin.
  • Stay in a cool environment as much as possible. Use an air conditioner or fan, if available.
  • Apply over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider.
  • If you were prescribed an antibiotic medicine, use it as told by your health care provider. Do not stop using the antibiotic even if your condition improves.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your health care provider. This is important.

How is this prevented?

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Take care of your feet, especially if you have diabetes. Foot care includes:
    • Wearing shoes that fit well.
    • Keeping your feet dry.
    • Wearing clean, breathable socks.
  • Protect the skin around your groin and buttocks, especially if you have incontinence. Skin protection includes:
    • Following a regular cleaning routine.
    • Using moisturizers and skin protectants.
    • Changing protection pads frequently.
  • Do not wear tight clothes. Wear clothes that are loose and absorbent. Wear clothes that are made of cotton.
  • Wear a bra that gives good support, if needed.
  • Shower and dry yourself thoroughly after activity. Use a hair dryer on a cool setting to dry between skin folds, especially after you bathe.
  • If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar under control.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • Your symptoms do not improve with treatment.
  • Your symptoms get worse or they spread.
  • You notice increased redness and warmth.
  • You have a fever.

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