What Is the Treatment for the Skin Condition Intertrigo?

What to do when a yeast infection develops in skin folds

An illustration of the Candida albicans fungus.
An illustration of the Candida albicans fungus. MedicalRF.com/Getty Images

Get the facts about the causes, signs and treatment for intertrigo with this overview of the skin condition.

So, what exactly is intertrigo? It is a yeast infection of skin folds caused by Candida albicans.

Skin folds are areas of the body that have skin touching skin, such as the armpits, groin and under heavy breasts or fat folds, where the environment is warm and moist. This is the perfect environment for Candida albicans, a yeast that is normally found on the skin, to overgrow and cause symptoms.

Other Factors That Can Cause Intertrigo

Hot, humid weather can lead a person to develop the skin condition, as can tight or abrasive underclothing or poor hygiene. This includes wearing dirty or sweaty underclothing and not showering daily or after exercise. Inflammatory skin diseases, such as psoriasis, that occur in the skin folds can cause intertrigo to develop as well. The use of topical steroids has also been found to be a contributing factor in some cases.

If you think medication you're taking is causing your case of intertrigo, talk to your doctor about making some adjustments or about the best way to treat the intertrigo. If psoriasis is the cause, speak to your doctor about how to better manage that condition to prevent intertrigo from developing.

Appearance of Intertrigo

Not sure if you have intertrigo? The skin condition is characterized by an intensely red, macerated, glistening rash with scaling on the edges.

The edge of the rash extends just beyond the limits of the opposing skin folds. Satellite lesions, small areas of the same rash that are close to the main rash, are characteristic of intertrigo and other Candida skin infections.

Diagnosis of Intertrigo

The majority of cases of intertrigo can be diagnosed based on the characteristic appearance.

If there is any question about the diagnosis, a KOH test can be performed to detect the presence of yeast. A bacterial culture can help diagnose a secondary bacterial infection.

Treatment of Intertrigo

Intertrigo is treated with anti-fungal creams such as clotrimazole and miconazole. Equally important in the treatment of intertrigo is keeping the skin folds as dry as possible. Change out of sweaty clothes after exercise and make sure you dry off well after bathing or showering. A drying solution such as Burow's compresses can be applied to the skin folds for 20 to 30 minutes several times a day to promote drying.

Prevention of Intertrigo

Most preventative measures involve reducing skin to skin contact and keeping the area dry. If you're overweight or obese, weight loss to reduce the size of fat folds may also help as can wearing loose, soft underclothing. If it's an option for you, forgo underclothing, such as sports bras, until your condition improves.

Remember to apply anti-fungal absorbent powder to affected areas daily and to wash the affected areas with soap and water every day as well.

Don't try to diagnose intertrigo yourself, even if you're certain that the skin condition is the culprit for your discomfort. Consult a physician to get a proper diagnosis and the care you need to resolve intertrigo.

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