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What Is Intertrigo And How Should It Be Treated?

Don’t be confused by its technical name, intertrigo (pronounced in-ter-tri-go) is simply a rash that develops when two skin surfaces rub together and trap moisture. Want to know what the symptoms of intertrigo are? Learn all about why this rash develops — and how to quell it.

Woman with symptoms of intertrigo scratching her neck

Why does intertrigo form?

Intertrigo is the result of folds of skin rubbing together, which causes friction and a build up of moisture that gets trapped within the skin. Intertrigo commonly appears in skin folds because these areas tend to become, and stay, moist, which leads to a rash that becomes inflamed as the body tries to fight the irritation. This is why intertrigo most commonly appears in areas that are covered, produce sweat, or have poor circulation; typically the armpits, underneath the breasts, the genital area, in between the toes, on the abdomen or in creases of the neck.

Courtesy of clinicaladvisor.com

What are the symptoms of intertrigo?

Intertrigo patients complain of burning and itching in the folds of their skin, a consequence of the friction and resulting infection. The rash is often accompanied by an infection that’s caused by various microorganisms, namely yeasts, fungi, or bacteria. Skin appears red and inflamed, sometimes cracked, crusty or scaly, and often has a bad smell.

Who is prone to intertrigo?

This uncomfortable inflammation can afflict any race, gender, or age group, but is more common in those who are consistently exposed to high heat or humidity, are obese, suffer from diabetes, are wearing a brace or splint, or have an artificial limb. Environmental factors can impact the development of intertrigo, particularly increases in temperature and humidity during the summer months. Athletes, or those who participate in activities like cycling or running, tend to make repetitive movements with their bodies that create friction between layers of skin, therefore leading to a higher risk for intertrigo. The presence of large folds of skin may also increase the likelihood of intertrigo. Infants are also at greater risk for intertrigo — the inflammation typically presents as a diaper rash.

Courtesy of clinicaladvisor.com

What are the best intertrigo treatments?

The most effective way to treat an area with intertrigo is by keeping the inflamed skin dry and exposed to the air. Applying Burow’s solution (a popular over-the-counter topical is called Domeboro) with a compress, then using a hair dryer (but only on its cool setting!) to bring relief to the skin, is an easy way to provide relief.

Another over-the-counter solution is a mild topical steroid, such as a hydrocortisone cream. If the area has become infected, physicians will typically prescribe antifungal or antibiotic creams/ointments; they may also suggest antimycotic agents such as miconazole or clotrimazole in combination with a mild- to mid-potency steroid.

To prevent intertrigo, try applying a lubricating ointment to areas that are predisposed to irritation, especially before participating in any physical activity. Showering regularly and thoroughly drying the affected area(s) afterwards is generally the the most helpful solution. Those with a propensity for developing intertrigo should avoid wearing tight shoes or clothing; women should ensure they wear a bra with good support to prevent irritation on their abdomen.

16 Comments
  1. I was told this condition, that I get at my thigh folds near the groin area, was “inverse psoriasis”. Can you specify the differences between these two conditions?

  2. What recommendation do you have on natural products for infants with this? My LO is always having an issue with this, and washing/drying isn’t enough sometimes.

  3. I use Zasorb AF (SP). It’s in the foot care section at Walmart. I powder under my breasts and my fat roll every day. When I had my mamogram the technician said that under my breasts looked very healthy.

  4. The best thing I have found that helps is applying diaper cream under my breasts! It makes such a big difference and it smells fresh!

  5. Fastest way to get rid of this is to shower and put A and D ointment (NOT CREAM)… PUT SOMETHING TO KEEP SKIN FROM TOUCHING SKIN. LET AIR DRY REPEAT AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE..IT WILL BE GONE BEFORE THE BEGINNING OF 3RD DAY…GUARANTEED

  6. After I got my irritated skin healed with the medicine my doctor prescribed, I have used Monistat anti chafing cream and it works great. I use it everyday. And do not have any break outs if I continue to use it. Not the anti itch cream, the anti chafing cream, it seems wet but it is really dry and does not cause any irritation.

  7. I use Monistat anti-chafing cream. Never use baby powder. Intertrigo is like a yeast infection and yeast will thrive on the powders. So if it is really bad, yes get the meds from the doctor but use the anti-chafing cream to keep it from reappearing. Not the itch cream, the chafing cream. I use that in my genital area and under my belly……under my breasts I just use my roll on antiperspirant deodorant after the rash is gone. If I remember to reapply after each bath or shower, I stay rash free.

  8. I get that up under my boobs all the freaking time. I shower regularly. I make sure I dry under my boobs good. I walk around my house at night, holding the girls up to let airflow in there. But, during the day while wearing my bra, it irritated to the point of being raw and bleeding. I’ve tried anti chafing cream, gold bond, deodorant, and nothing helps. It gets to the point I have to apply and ice pack just to take the redness away. Oh, and not to mention the smell from noon sweat. No matter how much I shower, it does not go away. It’s embarrassing.

  9. Can dogs suffer from this as well? I have a 5 yr old little chubby pitbull who develops a rash very similar to this in between her chubby folds and armpits. It clears up in a few days after we notice and air her out. She loves to sleep hurled up in a ball. That’s when we notice she develops this rash.

  10. I have had this problem a few times between and underneath my breasts now the symptoms are gone but now I have what looks like a red stain on the areas. What do I do to get rid of the red stains?

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