What is Intertrigo?

Intertrigo is a skin condition that can appear anywhere on the body where skin touches other skin. The red rash occurs between the skin folds and is likely to affect sweaty or wet areas

Symptoms of Intertrigo

Intertrigo can feel painful, uncomfortable, itchy, and rough. It can also cause infections, inflammation, and irritation. Other symptoms include:

  • The development of a symmetrical red or reddish-brown rash with little bumps where there is friction (skin rubbing against other skin).
  • The affected area feels raw.
  • The rash is oozing or bleeding.
  • There is a foul smell in the affected area.
  • The skin is cracked or flaky skin.

Where Intertrigo is often found

Intertrigo can be found in places with large skinfolds that rub together and trap moisture, including, but not limited to:

  • Abdomen
  • Armpits
  • Beneath breasts
  • Between toes
  • Buttocks
  • Genital area
  • Inner thighs
  • Neck creases

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Causes of Intertrigo

The mixture of rubbing of the skin, high temperatures, and moisture is one of the leading causes of intertrigo. So, areas often moist, warm, and with little air circulation are at a higher risk of developing intertrigo. Other factors that increase the likelihood of developing this rash are feces, urine, and sweat, particularly for those who wear diapers, such as infants (i.e., diaper rashes). 

Secondary causes of intertrigo are often accompanied by an infection caused by fungi, bacteria, viruses, and yeast. The most common intertrigo secondary infection is candida, yeast, and fungi. There are also dermatophyte fungi and the staph bacteria that cause intertrigo. 

Risk factors for intertrigo

You are most likely to develop intertrigo if you:

  • Have diabetes or psoriasis - because of excess sweating.
  • Are obese - because of the higher likelihood to have skin folds.
  • Have a suppressed immune system due to HIV or chemotherapy
  • Wear a brace, splint, or artificial limb
  • Are in humid or hotter temperature
  • Have poor hygiene

Treatment and prevention of intertrigo

Intertrigo treatment is different based on the stages and cause of the skin condition. For those without infections, the treatment includes keeping the infected area clean and dry.

Doctors may recommend topical steroid creams to reduce inflammation if there is an infection. Infections may also be treated with oral medication and antifungal or antibiotic ointments.

To prevent intertrigo and lower the risk of future outbreaks, make sure to:

  • Shower and dry off daily to keep your skin clean and dry. 
  • Wear comfortable bras 
  • Wear open-toed shoes
  • Lose weight (if obese)
  • Wear breathable clothing
  • Avoid tight shoes
  • Have a skin care routine
  • For diaper rashes, change diapers often

While intertrigo is painful and comfortable, at-home remedies and medical treatment are available to treat and prevent it. Most people with intertrigo are appropriately treated and recover from the condition without other occurrences.

Intertrigo can be chronic and recurrent, so it is necessary to continue taking preventative measures, such as having a proper hygiene routine to prevent future rash outbreaks. 

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September 13, 2023

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.