What is an intertrigo?

Intertrigo is a type of inflammation that occurs under the folds of the skin. It is more likely to be seen in the elderly, infants, and individuals who are immobile due to weight or health conditions. Most cases of intertrigo result from excessive rubbing and moisture within the skin folds leading to painful rashes. A caregiver or person with the condition should contact a medical professional to evaluate the rash and determine the best treatment options. Intertrigo usually goes away when the affected area is kept clean and dry for several days.

Irritation and redness occur when two opposing areas of skin constantly rub against each other. Heat and moisture from sweat or body fluids can quickly worsen the condition, and the skin can break open and become susceptible to infection. Skin inflammation can occur in many parts of the body, including the folds of the neck, the folds of fat in the abdomen or back, behind the knees, and the areas between the toes and fingers.

Obesity is a prominent risk factor for intertrigo in adults, as overweight people generally lead more sedentary lifestyles. People who are confined to beds or wheelchairs are also highly susceptible, especially if they do not sit on the affected areas or cannot communicate their discomfort. In incontinent infants and older people, intertrigo can occur if diapers are not inspected and changed frequently.

Mild intertrigo can usually be treated at home by cleaning the area and keeping it dry with a fan and soft towels. Incontinent infants and adults should be checked frequently to prevent further moisture buildup. Adults are encouraged to lose weight and wear loose clothing to reduce friction. Rashes that develop in bedridden or paralyzed patients should be monitored frequently by caregivers to make sure they go away. Doctors can help prevent future rashes by adjusting their patients' positions frequently and bathing them regularly.

If the condition does not resolve in about two weeks with home care, an appointment with a dermatologist should be made. Intertrigo is usually easy to diagnose on physical examination, although the doctor may decide to collect a culture or a sample of skin tissue from an affected fold to check for secondary infections. Laboratory tests of the samples can reveal the presence of bacteria or fungi and help the doctor make an accurate final diagnosis. Treatment for severe intertrigo usually involves a course of antibacterial or antifungal medications, along with anti-inflammatory medications to reduce immediate symptoms of pain and swelling. Additionally, a doctor can provide useful information to patients and caregivers on how to reduce the risk of developing rashes in the future.

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