Intertrigo is inflammation of skin occurring in warm, moist areas of body particularly on the skin folds. It usually develops from chafing and rubbing of skin surface of body folds found in areas of inner thighs, armpits, genitalia, under breasts, behind ears, underside of belly, and the web spaces in toes and fingers. When it occurs, it appears red and raw looking. It may itch, ooze, and become sore. When there is inflammation occurring on skin, it may cause infection by bacteria, fungi, or virus because the skin has broken.

Overweight people tend to suffer this condition because they have profound folds on skin. The folds can become moist and when they rub or press against each other, they are inflamed. They break and put the area susceptible to infection. People with diabetes, and those restricted to diaper use and bed rest may also develop the condition.

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People who use medical devices such as artificial limbs can suffer intertrigo when the limps trap moisture against skin. Some diseases can cause intertrigo such as inverse psoriasis and dermatitis. Intertrigo can be aggravated by things like maceration, moisture, heat, friction, and lack of air circulation on folded skin parts of the body.

When intertrigo occurs, it is usually colonized by infection mostly candidal infection; however, it may also suffer bacterial and viral infection, or other fungal infections. Treatment of this skin condition mainly addresses the causes and the probable infections that may have occurred on the broken, open skin such as bacterial infection.

Causes of intertrigo

Intertrigo affects the upper part of folded skin and is caused by moisture, fungi, or bacteria in the skin folds. This condition is common in areas that are warm with moist climates. Intertrigo can also occur when there is no infection, for instance, when the area becomes inflamed. The areas of skin folds will rub against each other and cause irritation and wearing out of skin, which could result in inflammation.


Heat and moisture will make the inflammation serious because it aggravates the effects of friction or rubbing of folded skin. Risk factors of developing intertrigo are obesity, diabetes, exposure to high heat or humidity, having splint, artificial limb, and braces. Poor hygiene, malnutrition, excessive sweating, and incontinence may also increase the risk of developing intertrigo.

Symptoms of intertrigo (rash)

The affected area of skin will look pink to brown. The very moist parts may begin to break down. At times, in severe cases, it may result in bad odor. When it develops, the skin looks raw, itchy, and oozy. It may be cracked or crusty. A red to brown rash may develop in the affected skin. In infants, it shows up as diaper rash. When you have symptoms of intertrigo, it is good that you see a doctor. You may have to be checked to determine whether there is an infection.


Treatment and prevention

When you develop intertrigo, a doctor may advise you to keep the affected area clean, dry, and exposed to air. The oozing can be controlled with moist compresses using astringent and air drying. Much of the treatment is aimed at removing the moisture that may be trapped on the affected site. The cause of the intertrigo may also help in defining the kind of treatment to be applied.

Sometimes, one may need to consider losing weight if the condition is being caused by overweight. It is common to experience relapses of intertrigo and it requires a dermatologist care. Keeping the area dry and well circulated can prevent the condition from recurring.

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Absorbent fabric or body powders may help in removing moisture. Since the area can be affected by microbes like bacteria, fungi, and virus, doctors may prescribe treatment when they find out an infection has occurred. Treatment with antibiotics may be needed when there is bacterial infection. To relieve pain, anti inflammatory medications may be applied.

Anti fungal creams are used if there is infection by fungus. Intertrigo is also perceived to be a symptom of deficiency in vitamin B6 meaning that in such a case, an individual may need to step up their vitamin intake. Correcting the causative factors is important in treating intertrigo.

People may want to eliminate friction, heat, or maceration so as to keep the area dry and cool. The skin surfaces with folds may be separated with things like linen cloth or cotton particularly the deep folds to prevent chafing.

People with intertrigo should try to wear loose clothing, and blow fans on moist areas to keep them dry. They can also use dry towel to put it on the areas of folded skin so that they remain open to allow circulation of air and reduce trapping of moisture. Where the condition is caused by a disease such as diabetes, psoriasis, or dermatitis, the treatment is aimed at treating the causative disease as well as the intertrigo itself.

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