Intertrigo, which is Latin for “rubbed sore”, is an inflammatory skin condition that particularly affects the skin folds. The infection is also known as “skin wolf”. Favoring factors are skin lesions, tight clothing, poor hygiene, humid climate and diseases such as diabetes.
What is intertrigo?
A common fungal pathogen is Candida albicans. Without treatment, the skin usually defends itself in vain. See AbbreviationFinder for abbreviations related to Intertrigo.
Intertrigo skin infection can be seen in different skin folds, such as the feet, armpits, groin, between the toes, inner thighs, anal folds, and under the breasts. In the vernacular, the red, erosive, itchy and inflammatory skin change is also called “wolf”.
Intertrigo results from mechanical friction in the skin folds, causing skin erosion and maceration. Humidity and heat reinforce the mechanism. The opposing surfaces of the skin become red and painful. The loss of integrity encourages the growth of bacteria and fungi. A common fungal pathogen is Candida albicans.
Without treatment, the skin usually defends itself in vain. Extensive and weeping inflammation develops. These are aggravated by sweat, urine, feces, vaginal discharge, and other fluids. Even infants are already affected by the disease intertrigo, since the hunched posture, short neck and rounded body contribute to skin folds.
The eczema can either be of fungal origin, but it can also be caused by bacteria such as streptococci and staphylococci, candida or dermatophytes. Favorable factors are mainly transpiration (sweating) and maceration due to the effects of heat. Visiting swimming pools and saunas promotes contamination due to the high humidity prevailing here.
Tight-fitting clothing and synthetic materials such as nylon also promote the onset of the disease. Obese people and athletes, such as cyclists and hikers, are particularly susceptible to intertrigo because they sweat more and their skin is often subject to friction and chafing. With a fuller body, the skin folds are also particularly pronounced.
A warm, humid climate develops there, which damages the natural acid mantle and makes the skin susceptible to pathogens. But a lack of exercise, for example due to being bedridden or working in an office, is also one of the risk factors. Diabetic patients are also more likely to develop intertrigo.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Intertrigo is easily recognized by the demarcated lesions on the skin that are pink to tan in color. The slight to severe reddening occurs on both sides of the crease in a roughly mirror-inverted manner. In addition, purulent crusts may form at the edges of the skin defects.
As body fluid leaks, itching or burning occurs. The lesions are usually painful. If the skin infection is caused by fungi, the patches have a white border. Pustules and papules indicate that the infection is secondary to Candida.
The previously damaged skin and the moist and warm environment are an optimal breeding ground for microorganisms, so that a secondary infection with various fungi such as candida and dermatophytes, bacteria such as streptococci and viruses is favored.
Diagnosis & course of disease
Diagnosis of intertrigo is based on history, appearance, and physical examinations. For example, a dermatologist may perform a KOH test to examine the fungal mycelia that are spreading in the skin lesion. Detection of the pathogen is helpful in order to select a suitable therapy.
The corresponding skin rash can give a good indication of the infection. While blisters suggest a bacterial infection, scattered papules or pustules around the edges are more likely to be a sign of Candida infection.
Well-defined and reddened, foul-smelling rashes without satellite papules suggest streptococcal infection. If the risk factors that lead to the occurrence of intertrigo are not avoided or eliminated, the disease can recur again and again.
Intertrigo usually causes severe discomfort on the affected person’s skin. These symptoms often lead to reduced self-esteem or to inferiority complexes and depression. The patients no longer feel comfortable with their appearance and often avoid social contacts or events as a result.
The skin can also be very red and the patient suffers from severe itching or burning. These unpleasant feelings can also lead to general irritability in the person concerned. Pustules and papules also form on the skin and can continue to have a negative impact on the patient’s aesthetics.
Further treatment of this disease usually depends on the cause. In most cases, however, there are no particular complications or symptoms and the symptoms disappear. Intertrigo can also be limited with the help of medication and ointments or creams. The life expectancy of those affected is not reduced with this disease. Furthermore, the patient is dependent on good personal hygiene so that the disease does not recur.
When should you go to the doctor?
If the redness on the skin persists for more than a few days, it is advisable to consult a doctor. Intertrigo should always be clarified by a doctor, because if left untreated, the skin disease can cause serious complications. If other symptoms appear, a doctor should be consulted immediately. This is especially true when well-being is affected. Severe itching and bleeding, as well as major skin changes, must always be examined by a doctor.
Intertrigo occurs in connection with bacterial infections or obesity. Athletes who wear tight-fitting clothing are also prone to developing sores. A doctor should clarify the symptoms and prescribe a suitable medication for the patient. Diabetes patients should inform the responsible doctor about the skin changes. If the sores appear for no reason, they may have a serious medical condition that needs to be evaluated by a medical professional. The right place to go is your family doctor or a dermatologist. With children, it is best to go to the responsible pediatrician.
Treatment & Therapy
Intertrigo can be treated with homeopathic remedies, such as Hepar sulfuris 5 CH. Hydrocotyle C5 is used for toe disease or athlete’s foot with reddened, moist and itchy skin. If the skin lesions are caused by sweating, Dulcamara 5 CH and Natrum sulfuricum 5 CH are helpful.
If the disease is of fungal origin, Mercurius 5 CH is taken. For weeping lesions, the homeopathic remedy Graphites and for intertrigo of infectious origin with progressive expansion Hepar sulfuris calcareum 5 CH is the optimal choice. Lycopodium clavatum 5 CH is good for reducing intertrigo when the condition is caused by a superinfected rash.
If intertrigo is caused by Candida albicans, treatment is given with Monilia albicans 5 CH. Glucocorticoids are anti-inflammatory, so they are useful for treating inflammatory processes. Drying skin care products like zinc ointment are also helpful. Antifungals and antibiotics can also be used against superinfections.
Without treatment, the skin infection spreads throughout the body at a rapid rate. Therefore, a doctor should be consulted when the first symptoms such as reddish and damp spots appear on the skin folds. The same applies to cracked skin and itching, because these symptoms also indicate intertrigo. Skin care products can be of help. Oil-in-water emulsions, for example, stabilize the damaged skin barrier and prevent intertrigo from reappearing.
Outlook & Forecast
For a large number of patients, the prognosis of the disease is favorable. This depends on various factors. They include the cooperation of the person concerned, the general state of health and the use of medical care. A doctor is not always needed. If the intertrigo is triggered due to a lack of hygiene, freedom from symptoms can be achieved by washing or showering daily and changing clothes regularly. Wearing tight clothing should also be avoided and may help alleviate the skin changes. If obesity is the cause of the disease, the person affected can alleviate the existing symptoms by changing their diet and optimizing their food consumption on their own responsibility.
Losing weight often minimizes skin imperfections in these sufferers. If diabetes is the trigger for the intertrigo, a doctor should be consulted so that a treatment plan can be drawn up in cooperation with him. Existing symptoms are alleviated by the administration of medicines. Long-term therapy is necessary in these patients, since in most cases a relapse occurs when the medication is stopped. The skin disease is triggered by a chronic underlying disease and can therefore usually only be alleviated with adequate therapy.
The best solution to avoiding intertrigo is prevention. This is possible by reducing weight, avoiding drinks that make you sweat, such as coffee, and avoiding clothing made of synthetic fibers because cotton is more suitable. Women should also not wear a bra that is too tight. Secondary infections can be prevented with a disinfectant.
In intertrigo, prevention, treatment and aftercare are all intertwined. Patients can reduce their risk of developing the disease by losing weight. Avoiding hot drinks and spicy foods also helps to avoid excessive sweating. Wearing natural fibers such as cotton ensures good breathability. Clothing should not be too tight to prevent possible irritation.
Special disinfection products are available to those affected to prevent secondary infections. The doctor informs the patient about the usual treatment with homeopathic medicines. Patients should pay attention to the correct intake and, if necessary, think about additional support measures. Vaseline, talcum powder or ointment helps to treat and alleviate the skin disease in a targeted manner. There are also special wound ointments for this, some of which contain cortisone.
According to the doctor’s recommendation, the patients use skin-friendly, gentle agents to clean and care for the affected area of skin. Fresh air is very helpful. A bath with antiseptic ingredients is suitable for killing the germs. If it comes to an open wound, a bandage or plaster is recommended. If an infection occurs, it is important to use the antibiotic prescribed by the doctor correctly. This complements the home remedies already mentioned.
You can do that yourself
With the help of a few resources from the household and from nature, an intertrigo can in many cases be cured on its own.
The “skin wolf” can be treated with Vaseline or talcum powder, for example, either as a powder or as an ointment. Wound ointments (e.g. the Hametum ointment or burn and wound gel) and cortisone-containing agents also help with acute symptoms. In addition, the affected area of skin must be cleaned regularly with a skin-friendly disinfectant and, if possible, supplied with fresh air. An antiseptic bath with Bepanthen or Betaisodona kills the germs. A plaster or bandage should be applied to open wounds. In the event of an infection, the doctor must prescribe a suitable antibiotic, which is best used in addition to the home remedies mentioned.
Various globules are available from homeopathy. For example, the anti-inflammatory preparation Hepar sulfuris C5 has proven itself. If the toes are affected or there is athlete’s foot, Hydrocotyle C5 can be used. Dulcamara 5 CH and Natrum sulfuricum 5 CH help with skin lesions caused by excessive sweating. If the infection spreads despite everything, a doctor must take over the treatment.