Intertrigo

Definition

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

Alternative Names

Considerations

Common Causes

Intertrigo affects the top layers of skin. It is caused by moisture, bacteria, yeast, 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 persons who are obese. It may also be seen 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

Losing weight and keeping the body moving can often help. Keeping areas of folded skin open with dry towels or blowing a fan across moist areas can also help. Wear loose clothing.

Call your health care provider if

Call your health care provider if:

  • The condition does not go away, even with good home care
  • It spreads beyond a skin fold

What to expect at your health care provider's office

Your health care provider can often make the diagnosis by looking at your skin.

  • A skin scraping and KOH examination may also be done to rule out a fungal infection
  • A Wood's lamp may be done to rule out a bacterial infection called erythrasma
  • Rarely, a skin biopsy may be needed to confirm the diagnosis

Treatment options for intertrigo include:

  • Antibiotic or antifungal cream applied to the skin
  • Drying medication such as Domeboro soaks
  • Low-dose steroid cream

References

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