What is Intertrigo?

An Inflamed Red Rash Between Skin Folds

Intertrigo is an uncomfortable, red, and inflamed rash caused by infections and inflammatory skin conditions, most commonly found within the flexural skin and in skin folds, such as between the buttocks, fingers, toes, behind the knees, under excess skin, in the groin, underarms, neck folds, and behind the ears. It may affect one or more areas at the same time and may also have multiple causes. Anyone can be affected by intertrigo. Individuals who are overweight, obese, or who otherwise have excess skin areas are particularly vulnerable, as are those who sweat excessively. There may also be a genetic predisposition to experiencing this skin disease.

Raw, Moist Skin Peeling With Cracks Leads to Infections

The onset of intertrigo can happen suddenly or become a chronic and recurrent condition. If left untreated, the condition tends to worsen significantly, and may result in secondary infections. The inflamed skin may eventually become raw, moist, and macerated. The skin may peel, wear off, and develop cracks. The underlying cause must be identified to stop the cycle.

Determining the Cause to Treat Intertrigo

It is important to determine precisely what the cause of the intertrigo is to best treat it, take any necessary corrective lifestyle measures, and prevent further damage to the skin. As flexural skin has an inherently higher temperature (and retains moisture), it is more readily susceptible to infection from bacteria, fungi, yeasts, and viruses. These areas also experience more movement, and the friction may lead to chafing. Intertrigo is classified as inflammatory or infectious (although causes tend to overlap in many cases.) Skin swabs, scrapings, and biopsies may be performed to identify the presence of any pathogens.

Infections That Cause Intertrigo

When intertrigo is caused by an infection, the condition tends to affect a specific area. The rash will likely be on one side of the body and asymmetrical. Some of the most common infections associated with intertrigo include:

  • Thrush
  • Erythrasma
  • Boils
  • Folliculitis
  • Tinea
  • Tinea Cruris
  • Athlete’s Foot
  • Impetigo

Inflammatory Conditions That Cause Intertrigo

If intertrigo is the result of an inflammatory condition, the rash tends to be more widespread. It will likely affect both sides of the body equally. Inflammatory intertrigo is commonly found on the neck and in knee and elbow creases (atopic dermatitis), as well under the breasts, armpits, groin, and abdominal folds. We treat inflammatory conditions that cause intertrigo:

  • Seborrheic Dermatitis
  • Flexural Psoriasis
  • Contact Dermatitis
  • Atopic Dermatitis
  • Hidradenitis Suppurativa
  • Fox-Fordyce Disease
  • Granular Parakeratosis
  • Hailey-Hailey Disease

Intertrigo Medical Treatment and Home Care

A variety of treatments and home care options are used to combat intertrigo. You may be prescribed an oral or topical anti-fungal, antibiotic, steroid, calcineurin inhibitor, or other prescription medication or cream to help combat any active infection present and provide symptom relief. Ultimately, any environmental condition present that is contributing to the rash formation should be corrected. The reduction of sweat production, body mass, and other contributing factors can result in rapid improvement.

Contact Allegheny Advanced Dermatology Center to schedule an appointment. Call: (814) 944-7109.