Intertrigo is irritation and breakdown of skin (maceration) in areas where two skin surfaces rub together.
Intertrigo develops when the combination of friction and trapped moisture softens and irritates the skin and causes it to break down. This breakdown often leads to infection by yeast or bacteria. The affected area is red, irritated, itchy, or a combination. The areas most commonly affected are warm, moist areas such as under the breasts, between folds of belly fat, between the fingers or toes, the underarms, below the buttocks, and the groin.
Intertrigo commonly occurs in people who are obese or sweat excessively and in people in whom clothing chafes the skin or traps moisture.
Doctors base the diagnosis on the location and appearance of the affected skin. Doctors may remove scrapings from the skin and look at them under a microscope. This test helps doctors figure out whether the cause of the intertrigo is a yeast infection. Occasionally, scrapings are cultured (the process of growing an organism in a laboratory for identification) to help doctors identify any bacterial or yeast infection.
If no bacteria or yeast are found, doctors give powders such as talc (not cornstarch, which can support the growth of fungus), Burow solution, and super-absorbent powders to dry out the affected skin. If bacteria or yeast are found, doctors also give antibacterial or antifungal agents.
Last full review/revision June 2013 by Denise M Aaron, MD