Merck Manual

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Erythrasma

By

Wingfield E. Rehmus

, MD, MPH, University of British Columbia

Medically Reviewed Apr 2021 | Modified Sep 2022
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Topic Resources

Erythrasma is infection of the top layers of the skin caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium minutissimum.

Erythrasma is most common in the foot, where it causes scaling, cracking, and breakdown of the skin between the last two toes. This infection is also common in the groin, where it causes irregularly shaped pink or brown patches and fine scaling especially where the thighs touch the scrotum (in men). The armpits, skinfolds under the breasts or on the abdomen, and the area just in front of the anus (perineum) are prone to this infection, particularly among people with diabetes and among obese middle-aged women. In some people, the infection spreads to the torso and anal area.

Diagnosis

  • A doctor's evaluation

Although erythrasma may be confused with a fungal infection, doctors can easily diagnose erythrasma because skin infected with Corynebacterium glows coral-red under an ultraviolet light.

Treatment

  • Antibiotics taken by mouth or applied to the skin

An antibiotic given by mouth, such as clarithromycin, can eliminate the infection. Antibacterial soaps, such as chlorhexidine, may also help.

Drugs applied directly to the affected area (topically), such as erythromycin, clindamycin, mupirocin, or benzoyl peroxide, are also effective.

Antifungal creams such as miconazole may be helpful if yeast or fungus is present in the affected areas as well.

Erythrasma may return, necessitating a second round of treatment.

Drugs Mentioned In This Article

Generic Name Select Brand Names
Biaxin, Biaxin XL
Betasept, Chlorostat, Hibiclens, Oro Clense , Peridex, Periogard, PerioRx , Perisol
A/T/S, Akne-mycin, E.E.S., Emcin Clear , EMGEL, E-Mycin, ERYC, Erycette, Eryderm , Erygel, Erymax, EryPed, Ery-Tab, Erythra Derm , Erythrocin, Erythrocin Lactobionate, Erythrocin Stearate, Ilosone, Ilotycin, My-E, PCE, PCE Dispertab , Romycin, Staticin, T-Stat
Cleocin, Cleocin Ovules, Cleocin Pediatric, Cleocin T, CLIN, Clindacin ETZ, Clindacin-P, Clinda-Derm , Clindagel, ClindaMax, ClindaReach, Clindesse, Clindets, Evoclin, PledgaClin, XACIATO
Bactroban, Centany, Centany AT
Acne Medication, Acne-10, Acneclear, Benprox , Benzac AC, Benzac W, Benzac-10, Benzac-5, Benzagel, Benzagel-10 , Benzagel-5, BenzaShave, BenzEFoam, BenzEFoam Ultra , BenzePrO, Benziq, Benziq LS, BP Cleanser, BP Cleansing Lotion, BP Foaming Wash, BP Gel, BP Topical , BP Wash, BP Wash Kit, BPO, BPO Creamy Wash, BPO Foaming Cloth, Brevoxyl-4, Brevoxyl-8, Clean&Clear Persa-Gel, Clearplex , Clearplex X, Clearskin, Clinac BPO, Del Aqua, Delos, Desquam-E, Desquam-X, EFFACLAR, Enzoclear, EPSOLAY, Ethexderm BPW, Inova Easy Pad, Lavoclen-4 , Lavoclen-8, NeoBenz Micro, NeoBenz Micro Cream Plus Pack, NeoBenz Micro SD, NeoBenz Micro Wash Plus Pack, Neutrogena Acne Cream, OC8, Oscion, Pacnex, Pacnex HP, Pacnex LP, Pacnex MX, PanOxyl, PanOxyl 10 Maximum Strength, PanOxyl 5, PanOxyl AQ, PanOxyl Aqua, PanOxyl-10, PanOxyl-5, PanOxyl-8, Peroderm, RE Benzoyl Peroxide , Riax, SE BPO, Seba, Seba-Gel, Soluclenz Rx , Theroxide, TL BPO MX, Triaz, Zaclir, Zoderm Cleanser , Zoderm Cream, Zoderm Gel, Zoderm Redi-Pads , Zoderm Wash
Aloe Vesta, Antifungal, AZOLEN TINCTURE, Baza, Cruex, Desenex, Desenex Jock Itch, Fungoid, Lotrimin AF, Lotrimin AF Antifungal Liquid, Lotrimin AF Deodorant, Lotrimin AF Powder, Lotrimin AF Spray, Micaderm , Micatin, Miconazole 7, Micotrin AP, Micro-Guard , Mitrazol, Monistat 1 Day or Night Combination Pack, Monistat 1 Vaginal Ovule Combination Pack, Monistat 1 Vaginal Ovule Combination Pack (Prefilled), Monistat 3, Monistat 3 Vaginal Cream (Prefilled), Monistat 3 Vaginal Cream Combination Pack, Monistat 3 Vaginal Cream Combination Pack (Prefilled), Monistat 3 Vaginal Ovule Combination Pack, Monistat 3 Vaginal Suppositories Combination Pack, Monistat 7, Monistat 7 Vaginal Cream Combination Pack, Monistat-Derm, Mycozyl AP, Neosporin AF, Novana Anti-Fungal, Oravig, Remedy, Soothe & Cool INZO, Ting Antifungal, Triple Paste AF , Vagistat-3, Zeasorb Athlete's Foot, Zeasorb Jock Itch
NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: VIEW PROFESSIONAL VERSION
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