Intertrigo is an infection that occurs in the skin folds of your body, resulting in inflammation and redness. Commonly affected areas include the elbows, knees, armpits, groin, and breasts, along with anywhere that skin folds have been allowed to form or areas in which moisture can become trapped. Intertrigo can happen to anyone, but is more likely to occur in patients who are overweight, have restricted mobility, or suffer from vitamin B6 deficiency. There are many treatments available to treat intertrigo, including both home treatment options and medications prescribed by your physician. If you notice intertrigo symptoms, it is important to start treatment right away to prevent additional irritation.
Keep it Dry
The most important part of intertrigo treatment is keeping the area dry. This can be difficult since the infection usually occurs as a result of naturally-trapped moisture between skin folds. Try to avoid sitting or lying positions that encourage this build-up, keeping the area open and aired out whenever possible instead. After bathing or showering, be sure to dry off before getting dressed completely. Rubbing the infected area with a towel may make symptoms worse, so take care to pat it dry gently. Use moisture-wicking fabric or keep the area uncovered, reducing the risk of moisture build-up that will exacerbate the condition.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, taking a shower at least once per day while recovering from an intertrigo infection is a good strategy to help heal the infection. Taking a shower in the morning and at night prevents the build-up of bacteria caused by sweat and moisture, allowing your skin the opportunity to heal. Most people sweat during the night and throughout the day, which is why taking two showers can be useful. However, taking at least one is imperative, since failing to do so can allow bacteria to remain on the skin and can spread the infection further.
Diaper Rash Cream
Many home remedy experts recommend using diaper rash cream to treat intertrigo. While the infections are not the same, they have similar symptoms. The best diaper rash creams contain zinc oxide or petroleum, which create a barrier that soothes pain and discomfort caused by intertrigo. If the infection is in an area where the skin frequently rubs together, such as the knee or armpit, diaper rash cream can help to moisturize the skin and prevent further irritation. Because diaper rash cream is typically free of perfumes and artificial colors, it is a healthier choice than most hand and body lotions.
Antifungals and Antibiotics
If your intertrigo does not appear to be clearing up on its own after about a week, you should consult your physician. They may be able to prescribe certain kinds of medication, including both oral and topical prescriptions. Depending on the cause of your infection, they may prescribe either antibiotics or antifungal medications. If given topical ointments or creams, you should apply them as prescribed. If your doctor recommends an oral medication, be sure to take all of the pills prescribed, since not doing so may result in a reoccurrence of the infection, potentially one that is resistant to antibiotics.
In place of antibiotics or antifungal medications, your doctor may suggest that you use steroid cream for your intertrigo. Many different things can cause Intertrigo, so treatment options vary. That why it is better to talk to your doctor before using steroid cream, even though it is available over the counter at most pharmacies. In some instances, steroid cream will not work and may even worsen your symptoms, so it is better to get treatment recommendations from your physician before trying it. If your doctor thinks this is a good option for your infection, be sure not to overapply the cream during treatment, since doing so can irritate the area further.
One of the most common causes of intertrigo is being overweight. That’s why losing weight can help you to prevent future occurrences of this infection. Of course, losing weight takes time, so this isn’t a quick-fix solution for a current infection. If you have more than one occurrence of intertrigo, however, you may want to consider finding a diet and exercise plan that works for you. Being overweight creates additional skin folds where intertrigo can flourish, making you more susceptible to this infection. Reducing sugar and fat intake, along with increasing physical activity, can help you to shed unwanted pounds.
Wear Open-Toed Shoes
Although intertrigo most commonly develops in large areas like the armpit, groin, or stomach, it is also possible to develop it on the foot, especially in between the toes. If you notice intertrigo in this area, you should make the switch from closed-toed shoes to open-toed shoes if possible. Wearing sandals will help to eliminate the build-up of moisture that occurs in the toe area of most shoes, allowing your feet to heal. If you cannot wear open-toed shoes due to weather or work restrictions, make sure to wear clean, dry socks. You should also go barefoot at home and overnight, promoting airflow to the toe area.
Avoid Tight Clothes
As much as possible, people with intertrigo should avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes. This especially includes clothes made of a material that traps sweat, like polyester and rayon, which tend to increase the risk of intertrigo. Instead, you should wear loose, cotton clothing that allows air to move freely. This will prevent sweat from being trapped against your skin, which is what causes the infection to occur. Even if you must wear more form-fitting clothes for work, the clothes you sleep in and work out in should never be tight, since these are two of the times you are most likely to produce sweat.
Another common cause of intertrigo is a poorly-fitting bra. Most women wear the incorrect bra size, whether it is too small or too large. A bra that is too small is a sign of extremely tight-fitting material, which can cause infection. However, a bra that is a size too big can be even more damaging. This bra does not provide enough support and is often the cause of intertrigo infections below the breast for women. To avoid this, you should go to at least two specialty stores for a professional fitting, allowing you to compare sizes and make sure you have the correct bra.
Use a Hair Dryer
If you have developed an intertrigo infection, it may be painful to dry the area with a towel after showering. However, drying the area is the most important part of treatment. That’s why a good alternative for those who experience pain or sensitivity in the area of their infection is using a hair dryer to dry your skin. If your hair dryer has a cool air setting, you should use it. If not, using the lowest heat setting and keeping a safe distance of 16-20 inches from the skin will allow you to safely dry your skin without needing to touch it directly.