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.

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What are risk factors for intertrigo?

Environmental factors play a major role in exacerbations of intertrigo. They include increases in temperature and humidity encountered most frequently during the summer months.

Activities such as bicycle riding or running, which produce repetitive movements, produce frictional forces which may injure the skin. The presence of large folds of skin, such as those that result from obesity, also enhances the likelihood of intertrigo.

What are intertrigo symptoms and signs?

Symptoms of intertrigo include itching and burning in the intertriginous zones. Occasionally, long-standing intertrigo may produce a musty smell. With intertrigo, these areas become inflamed and appear red and sometimes scaly.

What types of physicians diagnose and treat intertrigo?

Intertrigo can be diagnosed by most doctors purely on the basis of its appearance -- a red rash affecting one or more intertriginous areas. If the condition does not respond to conventional treatments, then a referral should be made to a dermatologist.

What are intertrigo home remedies and treatments?

Treatment of uncomplicated intertrigo primarily involves changing those environmental factors that have predisposed the patient to the condition. Areas of involvement are covered with a mild topical steroid like 1% hydrocortisone cream, which is available without a prescription, and then covered with zinc oxide paste or ointment (Desitin).

What are complications of intertrigo?

Intertrigo may be complicated by a variety of infectious microorganisms that must be eliminated before the condition is likely to improve. Since fungal infections are very common in the intertriginous zones, it is important to perform appropriate tests (such as microscopically analyzing small scrapings of affected skin) to exclude this problem. Most dermatologists and some primary care physicians are able to perform potassium hydroxide mounts of scale obtained from the irritated skin right in the office and visualize the fungus under the microscope. There are a variety of other skin diseases that may present a picture similar to intertrigo but are treated quite differently. If the condition does not respond to the simple treatment methods listed above, further diagnostic procedures may have to be done to elucidate the true diagnosis.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/10/2016

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