Medical Encyclopedia


Medical Encyclopedia

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Contents of this page:

Definition    Return to top

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."

Causes    Return to top

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 particularly moist, it may begin to break down. In severe cases, there may be a foul 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, which may trap moisture against the skin.

Intertrigo is common in warm, moist climates.

Home Care    Return to top

Weight loss and frequent moving of the body are often helpful. Keeping areas of folded skin open with dry towels or blowing a fan across moist areas can also help. Loose, unrestrictive clothing should be worn.

When to Contact a Medical Professional    Return to top

Call your health care provider if the condition persists despite good home care, or if it spreads beyond a skin fold.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit    Return to top

Your health care provider can often make the diagnosis simply 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 a low-dose steroid cream, a drying agent such as Domeboro soaks, or an antibiotic or antifungal cream applied to the skin.

Update Date: 10/28/2008

Updated by: Michael Lehrer, M.D., Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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