Randy Jacobs, M.D. Patient Education

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Intertrigo is type of inflammation of the top layers of skin caused by moisture and bacteria in skin fold areas. This is common in overweight people and is usually located in the inner thighs, armpits, and undersides of the breasts. Most cases develop in hot moist environments and in summer months. Hospitalized patients and others with limited mobility may contact intertrigo. The basic cause is maceration and friction of the skin combined with a superficial bacterial and yeast infection.



intertrigo is a type of superficial dermatitis occurring on the creases of the skin such as the neck, folds of the groin (most common), and armpit. This is caused from moisture, warmth, friction, sweat retention, and  infectious agents. Intertrigo is most likely found in overweight people particularly those suffering from diabetes mellitus.



The symptoms of intertrigo include red and moist skin that burns and itches. Intertrigo can be recognized by it's half moon shape. Erosions may also occur. Deep and painful fissures can develop in the skin crease areas. Heat, moisture, and friction between rubbing skin surfaces result in macerated inflamed skin. Tight fitting clothing makes the condition worse. The patient may find discomfort in walking because the moist areas can be painful when rubbed.


Management and Treatment

For the treatment of intertrigo, the infected body surfaces should be thoroughly cleansed, dried, and sprinkled with talcum powder or pastes containing zinc oxide. Zeabsorb is a helpful powder available over the counter at your pharmacy. Do not use corn starch as the bacteria and yeast can thrive on corn products. Continuous use of gauze strips or terry cloth towels between the infected areas will also help keep the areas dry and exposed to air. Some people find great relief by keeping a fan blowing on the area or by keeping a blow dryer (set on no heat) blowing on the area. The fan keeps the area dry and free of maceration. Often, there is a concurrent yeast or bacterial infection going on and Dr. Jacobs may prescribe anti bacterial or anti yeast medications in addition to zinc oxide. The prevention of intertrigo and other fungal or yeast infections is highly important. People should make sure to wash and dry very well especially between the toes, armpits, groin, and undersides of the breasts. Showers in homes, hotels, and locker rooms should also be kept clean. In addition, the following measures can be helpful for some people with intertrigo: Cotton underwear and loose fitting clothing - avoid pantyhose. Sterilize panties by boiling, hypochlorite (bleach) or microwave. For females: Wipe from in front backwards, and wash after going to the toilet. Cut out sugary foods. Eat Acidophilus yogurt. In most cases, the patient can continue on with their regular life if the patient follows through with the proper medications and keeps the areas dry. In severe cases, the patient may have to rest until the infection has cleared.


What to Expect

In most cases, intertrigo will clear in two to four weeks with the above program. After intertrigo clears, it is most important to keep the areas dry to prevent recurrences.