What is Intertrigo: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, Prevention

What is Intertrigo?

Intertrigo is a dermatological condition that is characterized by skin rashes that develop in the folds of the skin. The most likely areas where Intertrigo may develop are in the armpits, under the breasts, in the groin, or under the stomach fold. Intertrigo is mainly caused by friction that is induced when the skin folds rub against each other when they are moist or wet. The moist skin provides the perfect conditions for bacteria and yeast to grow and thrive in thereby causing an infection [1, 2, 3].

The primary bacterium responsible for infection in cases of Intertrigo is candida; however, other bacteria and yeasts may also cause it. Intertrigo is a condition that can affect people of all ages. The rashes caused by Intertrigo are erythematous and can be variable in intensity and as the condition progresses more secondary lesions or rashes may develop as well.[1, 2, 3]

What is Intertrigo

In babies and children Intertrigo manifests itself as a form of a diaper rash. Additionally, a compromised immune system, sedentary lifestyle, and any problems with urinary system all increase the likelihood of Intertrigo. Furthermore, this condition is also quite common in people with a known diagnosis of diabetes and who are obese. Intertrigo can be seen in areas that have hot and humid climate.[1, 2, 3]

What Causes Intertrigo?

As stated, the primary cause of Intertrigo is the friction that results due to moist skin rubbing against each other. This normally happens in the skin folds which can be seen in the armpits and under the breasts. The warm and moist conditions in these areas provide the best conditions for bacteria and yeasts to grow causing an infection[1, 2, 3].

Intertrigo is mostly seen in people with a compromised immune system like infants and the elderly. There are also certain medical conditions that can cause Intertrigo.

These include:[3]

  • Inverse Psoriasis: This is a variant of psoriasis that develops in the skin folds. It causes rashes that are erythematous and extremely itchy.[3]
  • Hailey-Hailey Disease: It is a rare genetic condition which causes the cells of the skin to stick together thereby breaking down the skin layers. The rashes caused by this disease look more like blisters and are generally seen in the neck, armpits, and genital areas[3].
  • Pemphigus: This is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune cells of the body attack the top layer of the skin. Pemphigus causes rashes that are commonly seen in the mouth, throat, nose, genitals, and even the eyes[3].
  • Bullous Pemphigoid: This is again an autoimmune disorder in which people develop severe blisters on the skin surface. These blisters are basically seen on areas of the skin that aid in mobility[3].

What are the Symptoms of Intertrigo?

The primary symptom of Intertrigo is the presence of an erythematous rash on the surface of the skin folds. The affected area may be extremely itchy and there may also be oozing at times. It commonly affects the inner thighs, under the breasts, under the belly, between buttocks, groin, in the webs of the fingers and toes. It should be noted here that rashes caused by Intertrigo are not limited to only the places mentioned above. They can develop in other areas also[2, 3].

How is Intertrigo Treated?

Based on an article published in the Journal of Dermatology Nurses the following treatment options are available for people with Intertrigo. These include:

  • Wash the area with shampoo containing 1% of ketoconazole that is easily available over the counter. It should be applied for at least 5 minutes and then the area should be rinsed off[3].
  • Drying off the area with a hairdryer[3].
  • Mixing 1% of clotrimazole and hydrocortisone creams and applying it on the affected area at least twice a day till the time the rashes clear off. This may take at least a month[3].
  • Even when the rashes have cleared, it is beneficial to continue using the ketoconazole shampoo at least once a week for a few days[3].
  • Ensure that the areas around the skin folds that have been mentioned above are completely dry[3].

Can Intertrigo Be Prevented?

Drying the areas where there are skin folds is the best way to prevent Intertrigo. In cases where people with obesity develop Intertrigo then it is best to speak to a physician on healthful means to lose weight. A visit to a nutritionist is also recommended[3].

Additionally, the American College of Dermatology suggests that people use cotton around the skin folds to ensure that any sweat is absorbed and the area is dry. Using antiperspirant is also quite effective in keeping the area dry[3].

It is also beneficial to wash the area with using an antibacterial soap. Also, using an antibacterial powder after having a shower especially in the skin folds is effective in preventing Intertrigo[3].

In conclusion, Intertrigo is a skin disorder that is characterized by presence of itchy rashes in the skin folds. The common areas where these rashes develop include the armpits, under the breasts, groin, and the genital areas. This is basically caused when moist skin folds rub against each other. It provides the best environment for bacteria and yeasts to thrive in and cause infection[1, 2, 3].

This condition is common in babies and manifests itself as diaper rash. People with diabetes with obesity along with people who have a compromised immune system are at an increased risk to develop Intertrigo. If Intertrigo is caused by a medical condition then it is recommended to speak to a physician and seek treatment. Other than this, just applying antibacterial soap and shampoo are good enough to treat Intertrigo[1, 2, 3].