What to Do for Intertrigo

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Many people have experienced intertrigo, which is the medical term for a skin rash that occurs whenever a moist skin fold chafes and becomes infected. Women with large breasts often experience this rash beneath the bra band, and overweight people might develop intertrigo in abdominal skin folds or those of the groin. Intertrigo tends to be more common in people who are overweight, bed-bound, use artificial limbs, or live in hot, humid climates, but the condition can occur in anyone. The key to intertrigo treatment lies in drying out the rash and eliminating the skin infection.

Signs and Symptoms of Intertrigo

Because intertrigo is so common, you probably can identify it yourself. Intertrigo occurs due to chafing—when two areas of skin rub together. Intertrigo most commonly occurs in skin folds of the neck, armpits, elbows, breasts, knees, abdomen, groin or between the toes. Other common signs and symptoms of intertrigo include:

  • Burning, itching or pain within the irritated skin fold

  • Raw-looking skin within a fold

  • Well-defined red rash that may also be weepy (oozing)

  • Yeast-like or putrid odor from the rash

Other types of skin rashes, such as allergic contact dermatitis or eczema can resemble intertrigo, so if you’ve never experienced intertrigo before you should see your primary care provider or a dermatologist for a diagnosis. Once you’ve been diagnosed with intertrigo, you will recognize it each time it occurs and intervene quickly with home treatments.

Home Remedies for Intertrigo

Intertrigo home treatment has two main goals: dry out the skin fold and treat the skin infection causing the rash. To dry the skin fold and keep it dry, try these home remedies:

  • Place an absorbent dressing (such as a telfa pad, menstrual pad, or gauze) against the rash and changing it regularly.

  • Use a fan or blow dryer on the cool setting to air out the skin fold.

  • Use a soft towel to gently dry the area several times a day.

  • Wear clothing made of moisture-wicking fabric.

  • Wear loose clothing to avoid trapping moisture against the skin.

Once the rash has cleared up, apply powder to skin folds after every shower. Be sure to cleanse skin folds regularly (and gently) to reduce the risk of fungal or bacterial growth.
Some people find relief with a vinegar treatment for intertrigo. Mix one tablespoon of vinegar into one quart of lukewarm water. Soak a soft cloth in this solution and apply to the rash twice daily for up to 10 minutes. Dry thoroughly.

For weeping rashes, an over-the-counter Burow solution (water and aluminum acetate) can help dry out the area too, preventing irritation and reinfection.

Skin infection treatment

While you are taking steps to dry out the affected skin folds, you also must treat the underlying fungal or bacterial infection causing the rash. Over-the-counter intertrigo treatments include antifungal powders (preferred over creams, which keep the skin fold moist), topical corticosteroid creams, and antibacterial ointments. Do not overuse antibacterial ointments, as this can cause a different type of rash to develop.

Intertrigo can lead to a serious infection left untreated, so if a home remedy doesn’t work you should see a doctor for treatment. Prescription powders and creams offer more alternatives for eliminating this painful rash quickly.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2019 Aug 27
  1. Intertrigo. U.S. National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003223.htm
  2. Intertrigo. American Academy of Family Physicians. https://familydoctor.org/condition/intertrigo/?adfree=true
  3. Intertrigo. Merck Manuals, Consumer Version. https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/skin-disorders/fungal-skin-infections/intertrigo
  4. What are the treatment options for intertrigo? Medscape. https://www.medscape.com/answers/1090632-102672/what-are-the-treatment-options-for-intertrigo
  5. Nobles T, Miller RA. Intertrigo. [Updated 2018 Oct 27]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK531489/ 

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