What is Intertrigo?

Intertrigo is an inflammation of the skin under body folds like the armpits, under the breasts or in the inner thighs. The skin develops a red, raw-looking rash that can itch or cause discomfort. The condition occurs when sweat cannot evaporate from the fold and it creates an environment for a bacterial or fungal infection.

Intertrigo is most common in overweight or obese patients. If you have diabetes, you may also be more susceptible to developing intertrigo and other skin infections. Women with larger breasts are often at risk of developing the condition. Older people who are incontinent and babies may develop intertrigo in the groin area, as wetness from urine that is not absorbed by diapers can become trapped in skin folds where the legs and body come together or in the perineum area.

What are the Symptoms of Intertrigo?

Signs of intertrigo include red or brownish rash, oozing and broken skin, a crust on the skin and an unpleasant odor. You’ll also feel some discomfort or itchiness associated with the rash.

Intertrigo Causes

Intertrigo is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria and yeast on the skin. Many of these organisms live on the skin all the time.

The rash and rawness that is characteristic of intertrigo develops when two folds of skin come into contact. These areas of skin build up moisture from perspiration. They then rub against one another creating an irritated area that is the perfect environment in which yeast and bacteria proliferate.

Some skin diseases will cause intertrigo to develop as a secondary problem. Those with a history of psoriasis often develop intertrigo in the groin area. Seborrheic dermatitis sufferers see intertrigo develop frequently in both the groin and armpit areas. Patients with general dermatitis and eczema are at risk for intertrigo wherever there are skin folds on the body.

Those who are overweight, and those with a history of diabetes are especially prone to intertrigo. Being overweight often causes heavier perspiration, and diabetics are more susceptible to yeasts.

How is Intertrigo Treated?

Mild cases of intertrigo can be treated at home. Wash carefully with a non-drying, non-fragranced soap and pat dry. You may have to change undergarments or clothing often to keep the area dry throughout the day. A barrier cream or triple antibiotic ointment may help get rid of any infection.

Any cases that do not clear up in a couple of weeks should be seen by your dermatologist, who can prescribe antibacterial or antifungal ointments to apply to the skin.

If you have a chronic problem with intertrigo, you might consider Botox injections. Some patients get these to block sweating in areas that are susceptible to skin infections; the Botox can block excess sweating for several months. This can give the condition time to heal completely.

Intertrigo Prevention

There are several ways that intertrigo might be prevented or controlled. It is essential to prevent the accumulation of moisture in skin fold areas in order to prevent intertrigo.

Try to keep the skin as dry as possible. After working, or whenever heavy perspiration occurs, always bathe or shower. After showering, always dry the skin completely. It may help to dry the skin fold areas with a hair dryer set on the cool and low power setting.

Wearing clothing that is not too tight is important to prevent intertrigo. Tight clothing rubs and sticks to the skin creating irritation. Wear clothing that is made from material that will pull moisture away from the body.

Those who are overweight often have much difficulty with intertrigo. Reducing weight to a healthy level will go a long way in helping to prevent intertrigo development.

Last Reviewed:
October 09, 2016
Last Updated:
March 08, 2018