It is common for people to develop skin rashes in areas of the body where skin folds occur. These skin folds cause skin surfaces to rub against each other, trap moisture, develop infection, and produce symptoms. These symptoms include reddish or brownish skin patches, raw, itchy skin, oozing, cracking or crusting, and foul odor. These are characteristic of intertrigo, an inflammatory skin condition that commonly develops under or between the breasts, the genital area, the armpits, and the abdomen. Other places where intertrigo may occur include the inner thighs, between toes, between the buttocks, and in the creases of the neck.
There are some factors that can make your symptoms worse. A combination of friction, heat, moisture from sweat, and lack of air circulation can increase skin irritation. In the genital area, the presence of urine and feces can also increase the likelihood of infection. Skin infection may be caused by yeast, other fungi and bacteria. These factors can increase inflammation, skin reddening, itching, oozing, and discomfort.
Certain risk factors increase your likelihood of developing intertrigo. If you are obese, you are likely to have excess fat and skin rubbing against each other. Diabetes increases your risk of having yeast infection. Exposure to heat and humidity, excessive sweating, malnutrition, poor hygiene, and incontinence also make you prone to skin inflammation and intertrigo. Using splints, body braces or artificial limbs also make your skin prone to irritation. Doing repetitive activities which can cause skin to rub on skin, such as riding a bicycle or running is also a risk factor. Chubby babies who have flexed posture and short necks can also develop intertrigo. People who have a skin condition called psoriasis are prone to experience intertrigo.
How to Treat and Prevent Intertrigo
Intertrigo is not a serious problem. It is important, first of all, to keep the affected skin clean and dry. Shower daily and dry off with a clean towel. Keep the skin cool and dry by wearing loose fitting clothes and avoid wearing tight clothes and shoes. Use a support bra that can prevent the breasts from rubbing against the underlying skin. If you are obese, losing excess weight also helps improve skin problems related to friction in skin folds. In most cases, symptoms of skin inflammation go away on their own, even without treatment.
To prevent skin irritation in areas where skin friction occurs, apply a petroleum jelly or zinc oxide paste generously prior to any physical activity. In babies, you can help prevent skin irritation around the diaper area by changing diapers often.
To control oozing, use moist compresses with Burow's solution, an astringent. Air-dry the affected area using a hair dryer on "cool" setting.
If your symptoms do not improve, consult a doctor. He may prescribe using a topical steroid (1% Hydrocortisone cream) to reduce skin inflammation. If infection is present, he may also prescribe an antibiotic or antifungal cream. Serious infection may be treated with oral medications.
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