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Definition

Intertrigo is an inflammation of the top layers of skin caused by moisture, bacteria, or fungi in the folds of the skin. Intertrigo affects so many people but most have no idea of why they experience this annual mystery. The affected areas are usually pink to brown. If the skin is particularly moist, it may begin to break down. In severe cases, there may be a foul odor. Candidal intertrigo is acute inflammation of the intertriginous skin with the characteristic small satellite peripheral eruptions.

Causes

Intertrigo is a yeast infection of skin. It is caused by Candida albicans. Diabetics or anyone with borderline elevated blood sugars may find them more prone to developing intertrigo. Heat and moisture have a softening effect on the skin, called maceration. It is easier for macerated skin to become irritated when the folds of the body rub against each other.
This condition may also be seen in people who are restricted to bed rest or in those who wear medical devices that may trap moisture against the skin, such as artificial limbs, splints, and braces.

Symptoms

Itching is the most common symptom of this illness. In most cases of the itching it will become intense and scratching will not even relieve it. Symptoms of intertrigo can appear wherever the skin falls in folds: usually around the armpits, the belly, the inner thighs, or under the breasts. Skin lesions will also appear in a red and raw area. You may also notice an increase in infected hairs on the body. This is a common symptom of the disease and it is best to leave them alone until it has run its course.

Treatment

Inflammatory skin diseases are often treated with low potency topical steroid creams such as hydrocortisone. More potent steroids are usually avoided in the flexures because they may cause skin thinning resulting in stretch marks and even ulcers. Calcineurin inhibitors such as tacrolimus ointment or pimecrolimus cream may also prove effective.

Intertrigo is treated with antifungal creams such as clotrimazole and miconazole. Equally important in the treatment of intertrigo is keeping the skin folds as dry as possible. A drying solution such as Burow's compresses can be applied to the skin folds for 20 to 30 minutes several times a day to promote drying.

If a rash develops, then another important treatment is to wash affected areas with water only. Soap can be irritating, so it can be avoided. Pat dry thoroughly. Apply cold, wet compresses to the rash to reduce itching. Repeat frequently.  Leave the rash exposed to air. Baby powder can help keep it dry.

 

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