Intertrigo

  • Medical Author:
    Gary W. Cole, MD, FAAD

    Dr. Cole is board certified in dermatology. He obtained his BA degree in bacteriology, his MA degree in microbiology, and his MD at the University of California, Los Angeles. He trained in dermatology at the University of Oregon, where he completed his residency.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Intertrigo facts

  • Intertrigo is a dermatitis that affects skin folds.
  • Intertrigo is caused when frictional forces, enhanced by heat and moisture, produce skin irritation.
  • Risk factors for intertrigo include obesity, heat, and humidity.
  • Intertrigo patients complain of redness, burning, and itching in the skin folds, most commonly in the groin, under the breast, and in the armpits.
  • Occasionally, long-standing intertrigo may produce a musty smell.
  • Intertrigo is diagnosed by visual inspection after eliminating infectious causes.
  • Treatment involves the reduction of frictional forces, humidity, and heat in the skin folds.
  • Intertrigo dermatitis can be infected by bacteria and fungi. Eruptions in the skin folds can occur in a number of other dermatological conditions aside from intertrigo.
  • Intertrigo can be prevented by losing weight and applying lubricating topical preparations prior to athletic endeavors.
  • The prognosis of intertrigo is excellent.

What is intertrigo?

Intertrigo is a very common inflammatory condition affecting areas of skin that are characteristically in contact with each other, such as the groin, armpits, under the breasts, and skin folds on the anterior torso. These areas of skin that are in contact with each other are referred to as the intertriginous zones. In obese individuals, skin folds may occur in a variety of other areas and so can be affected by intertrigo.

What causes intertrigo?

Simple intertrigo is an irritant dermatitis caused by the combination of frictional rubbing, increased temperature, and moisture. Intertrigo can be complicated by various microorganisms, including yeasts, dermatophytic fungi, bacteria, as well as allergic and irritant reactions to various medications and chemicals. There are also some uncommon exotic dermatologic diseases that have a predilection to appear in the intertriginous zones.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/10/2016

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