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Intertrigo

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

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:

  • Separate skin folds with dry towels.
  • Blow a fan on moist areas.
  • Wear loose clothing and moisture wicking fabrics.

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 provider can usually 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
  • In rare cases, a skin biopsy is needed 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 or immune modulating cream may be used
  • Creams that protect the skin

References

Habif TP. Superficial fungal infections. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 13.

Kalra MG, Higgins KE, Kinney BS. Intertrigo and secondary skin infections. Am Fam Physician. 2014;89(7):569-573. PMID: 24695603 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24695603.

Review Date 10/31/2016

Updated by: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.