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Denise M. Aaron

, MD, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center

Last full review/revision Feb 2020| Content last modified Feb 2020

Intertrigo is irritation and breakdown of skin (maceration) in areas where two skin surfaces rub together.

  • Sometimes bacterial or yeast infections develop.
  • The diagnosis is based on the location and appearance of the rash and sometimes on an analysis of skin scrapings and culture.
  • Treatment is aimed at drying the skin and eliminating infections.

(See also Overview of Fungal Skin Infections.)

Intertrigo develops when the combination of friction and trapped moisture softens and irritates the skin and causes it to break down. This breakdown often leads to infection by yeast or bacteria. The affected area is red, irritated, itchy, or a combination. The areas most commonly affected are warm, moist areas such as under the breasts, between folds of belly fat, between the fingers or toes, the underarms, below the buttocks, and the groin.

Intertrigo commonly occurs in people who are obese or sweat excessively and in people in whom clothing chafes the skin or traps moisture.

Diagnosis of Intertrigo

  • A doctor's examination of the skin
  • Sometimes examination of skin scrapings and culture to look for a yeast infection

Doctors base the diagnosis of intertrigo on the location and appearance of the affected skin.

Doctors may remove scrapings from the skin and look at them under a microscope. This test helps doctors figure out whether the cause of the intertrigo is a yeast infection. Occasionally, scrapings are cultured (the process of growing an organism in a laboratory for identification) to help doctors identify any bacterial or yeast infection.

Treatment of Intertrigo

  • Agents to keep the skin dry
  • Sometimes antibacterial lotions or antifungal creams

If no bacteria or yeast are found, doctors may recommend agents like Burow solution or over-the-counter antiperspirants that contain 20% aluminum chloride to keep the area dry and prevent irritation.

If bacteria or yeast are found, doctors also give antibacterial lotions or antifungal creams. (See also table Some Antifungal Drugs Applied to the Skin (Topical Drugs).)

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