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  5. All You Need To Know About Intertrigo

Are you irritated by the sudden painful and uncomfortable rashes that appear on your neck, thighs and other folds of your body? Are you unsure about what they are and how to get rid of them?

These irritable rashes can be caused by a severe skin disease called intertrigo. You may confuse them with regular rashes, boils, or allergic reactions, but consult your doctor to be sure about this condition.

Our Ayurvedic Doctor Speaks

“Intertrigo is mentioned in verses of Ayurveda that talk about ‘Sthaulya Chikitsa’ or treatment for obesity. Obese people often suffer from the darkening of skin within the folds.”

- Dr. Zeel Gandhi (Bachelor of Ayurveda, Medicine & Surgery), Chief Ayurvedic Doctor, Vedix

What Is The Meaning Of Intertrigo?

Intertrigo is an inflammatory skin condition that looks like rashes in the most common folded areas of your skin. It can occur due to warm temperatures, friction of the skin, excessive moisture, etc. This skin condition is commonly found among people living in hot and humid climates. People of any age and gender can be affected by this skin condition.

Ayurveda describes intertrigo as a skin condition that occurs among people who have both pitta and kapha dominant skin prakriti. Pitta dosha in association with kapha dosha causes moisture accumulation in skin folds which leads to intertrigo, also known as Paridagdha in Ayurveda.

Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix says that, “Intertrigo is also mentioned in verses on Ayurveda that talk about ‘Sthaulya Chikitsa’ or treatment for obesity. Obese people often suffer from the darkening of skin within the folds.”

What Does Intertrigo Rash Look Like?

 Intertrigo skin rash

Intertrigo rashes appear to be red in color. They feel sore and itchy and even ooze out pus sometimes. The rash can be both red and reddish-brown in color and the skin around it becomes cracked and crusty.

These rashes can appear in any folded area of the skin that rubs together and traps moisture. It can occur on both sides of the folded skin. The intertrigo rash can also bleed if it goes through excessive friction. The area surrounding the rash may become scaly after some time.[1]

  • The various areas on your body where intertrigo rash can appear are:
  • The inner section of your thighs
  • The skin under your breasts
  • The belly folds of an obese person
  • The groin area
  • The skin dividing the buttocks
  • The webs of your fingers and toes
  • The crease of your neck and
  • Your armpits
  • Even areas like the back of your ears, chin and eyelids can be affected by intertrigo.

What Does Intertrigo Smell Like?

man itching his buttocks

Intertrigo infection can also smell, especially in areas like your armpits and the skin between your buttocks. It has a foul smell and the intensity of the smell increases if the area is not dried properly or cleaned frequently.

Different Kinds Of Intertrigo

Intertrigo can be classified or differentiated based on the origin of the inflammation:

1. Thrush

This type of intertrigo is caused by a candida infection. The rashes are itchy and moist. They start peeling and the skin becomes red and white.

child with severe heat rash on his neck and chest

2. Erythrasma

It is identified by its brown patches. It does not cause any pain or itchiness.

3. Tinea Cruris

This type of intertrigo causes rashes in the groin area and athletes foot. It causes peeling and scaling and irregular annular plaques.

4. Impetigo

This develops rapidly. It is identified by the moist blisters and crusts on a red base. It is very contagious and the patient needs to be secluded if affected.

5. Bullous Impetigo

Commonly known as boils, this type of intertrigo develops rapidly and the area around the rash is very painful.

6. Folliculitis

It can be acute or chronic and is identified by tender and red pimple-like rashes. It grows around the hair follicles on your skin and is instigated by external causes like shaving, waxing and other hair removal methods.

7. Toe-Web Intertrigo

People who wear tight-fitting shoes for a long period of time often get affected by this type of intertrigo. It also brings erythema and scaling with it and occurs near the ankles and knees. The rashes also cause a burning sensation and oozing out of the pus, making the patient unable to move the affected area of the body. [2]

Signs & Symptoms Of Intertrigo

1. Symptoms Of Intertrigo Without Infection

  • A red or reddish-brown rash along with small bumps around the area that faces maximum friction.
  • Sensations of itching, stinging and burning around the affected area.
  • Extreme discomfort and pain.[3]

2. Symptoms Of Intertrigo When It Is Not Identified Or Treated In Its Initial Stage

  • The intertrigo affected area of the skin seems to be raw.
  • The skin eventually forms cracks.
  • If the rash is like a boil, then you may also experience bleeding and oozing of pus.
  • The skin eventually becomes dry and gains a crust-like texture.

3. Symptoms Of Intertrigo With Infection

  • When intertrigo gets infected, a foul smell arises.
  • The rashes get filled with pus.
  • The rashes are tender and bumpy.

What Causes Intertrigo?

 Eczema groin atopic dermatitis

Intertrigo can be caused by various factors. These include,

  • Friction between folds of skin, creases and the skin between fingers and toes.
  • Heat and moisture are trapped in the folds of the skin due to sweating.
  • Friction due to the movement of folded areas like thighs, elbows and armpits.
  • Diseases like diabetes, alcohol consumption and smoking can also increase chances of intertrigo.
  • Various fungi and bacteria like candida, dermatophyte and staph.

How To Treat Intertrigo?

Identifying the type of skin you have is the first step to curing intertrigo and various other skin diseases. You can follow any of the treatments given below.

A. Ayurvedic Treatments

Pitta-kapha treatments can be followed to cure intertrigo. Ayurvedic herbs and treatments are raktashodhak (blood purifying), raktha prasarana (helps in proper blood circulation) and tweak prasadana (skin purifying), which can be used to treat intertrigo.

Ayurvedic herbs that can be used to cure intertrigo are:

1. Sariva

This herb pacifies the pitta dosha and has a cooling effect, along with blood-purifying capabilities.

2. Manjistha

This is also a blood purifying herb that has antioxidant and astringent properties. It treats skin allergies, heals wounds and eases pain.

3. Haridra (turmeric)

This is like a magic herb in the world of Ayurveda and helps in detoxifying the skin. It has been proved to treat chronic inflammatory skin conditions and also has antifungal properties.

4. Yashtimadhu

This herb works as a cooling agent for the skin that is irritated by intertrigo. It is a natural detoxifier.

5. Lodhra

It soothes irritated skin and heals rashes.

6. Amla

This is an all-in-one herb for your skin diseases, it works as a toner, detoxifier and rejuvenator.

7. Nimba (neem)

Neem contains anti-inflammatory compounds like nimbidin, nimbin and quercetin. This anti-inflammatory herb reduces the redness of the skin and soothes irritated skin.

Ayurvedic formulas and treatments useful for intertrigo include:

8. Panchanimbadi Churna

This Ayurvedic formula treats various skin infections and balances pitta dosha. It is taken in powder form with an ideal dosage of 3gm/day, once or twice a day. This mixture contains various healing herbs like neem, haritaki, brahmi, pippali, vibhitaki, etc. and is usually consumed with honey.

9. Udvartana

Since intertrigo is also related to obesity, udvartana, an Ayurvedic treatment for weight loss, is beneficial. Here, a powder or paste is applied and rubbed all over the body and left to dry for 45 minutes. After massaging the paste all over the body, a herbal sauna is recommended before washing the concoction. The udvartana powder contains Ayurvedic herbs like bibhitaki, amlam deodar, senna, kulthi, etc. these herbs help in stimulating your nerves.

10. Abhyanga

This is an Ayurvedic massage done with warm oil and it improves skin health and reduces stress. Steps include [4]

  • Take half a cup of oil and warm it a little bit before use.
  • Apply it all over your body in circular motions.
  • Leave it for 10-15 minutes and then take a shower with lukewarm water. Make sure to remove all the oil to avoid clogging of pores.

B. Home Remedies

There are various ingredients present in your kitchen that can be used to treat intertrigo. These include,

1. Apple Cider Vinegar

This has antimicrobial properties that hinder the growth of candida, which is a major cause of intertrigo. It also reduces irritation and itching.

How To Use

  • Mix water and apple cider vinegar in a 1:1 ratio.
  • Apply on the infected area with a clean cloth or cotton.
  • Wash it with water after some time.

2. Rosewater

It reduces inflammation of the skin caused by intertrigo rashes.

How To Use

  • Mix rosewater with any natural carrier oil and apply it to the affected area.
  • Use at least twice a day.
  • Wash it off after some time.

3. Tea Tree Oil

This is also an antimicrobial oil that can reduce candida infections.

How To Use

  • Use coconut/almond oil to dilute the tea tree oil as it can be too strong on its own.
  • Apply on the affected area at least twice a day.

4. Garlic

Garlic has both antifungal and antiseptic properties. It alters your cell membranes, which in turn helps in curing intertrigo. It also brings relief from redness and itching.

How To Use

  • Mince 2 cloves of garlic.
  • Mix it with water and apply on the affected area.
  • Wash it after 5-10 minutes.

5. Lemon

The vitamin C present in lemon is a natural antibacterial.

How To Use

  • Apply a few drops of lemon juice directly on the infected area 2-3 times a day.

6. Coconut Oil

It has anti-inflammatory properties.

How To Use

  • Apply coconut oil on the affected area and leave overnight.
  • If you have oily skin, avoid leaving overnight.

7. Cucumber

It is a natural cleansing agent that gets rid of toxins from the skin. It also has astringent properties.

How To Use

  • Use cucumber slices on affected areas.
  • You can freeze the cucumber overnight for better results.

C. Diet & Lifestyle Change

Foods that you should eat

Foods that you should avoid

Fruits low on sugar like lemons and limes

Excess sugar

Berries

Gluten based food

Avocado

Packaged foods

Olives

Frozen food

Eggs

Desserts

Chicken and turkey in a lean cut

Processed meat

Clarified butter and yogurt

Dried packaged fruit

Gluten-free grains

Red meat

Herbal tea

Crustacean foods

Apple cider vinegar

Full-fat dairy products

Herbs like basil, clove, oregano etc

Caffeine

Fermented foods like kombucha

Alcohol

You can also make certain lifestyle changes to cure intertrigo:

  • Use gauze to cover the area affected by intertrigo.
  • Use a fan or dryer to dry out the folded or affected areas of your skin after a bath.
  • You can also use a clean soft towel to dry yourself.
  • Wear loose clothing and avoid chafing as much as you can.
  • Apply powder on the affected area after a bath.
  • Use a deodorant that reduces sweating but is also gentle on your skin.

D. Other Medical Treatments

  • You can use ointments that contain zinc oxide. This will avoid friction between your skin folds by forming a barrier.
  • Often steroid creams are recommended for curing any kind of inflammation on the skin.
  • You can also use antifungal and antibacterial creams to combat the inflammation caused by intertrigo.
  • Your dermatologist might also recommend you some oral medication that can help you in curing your intertrigo.

Prevention Tips For Intertrigo

Here are some things you can do to prevent this condition from occurring at all.

  • Dry yourself completely after taking a shower.
  • Wear clothes made of breathable material that are loosely fit.
  • If you are wearing pads, change frequently. Also, change the diapers of your children frequently.
  • Follow a proper skincare routine at least 2 times a day. Consult your dermatologist before making the routine.
  • Avoid obesity and keep your BMI on a healthy level.
  • You can also go for breast reduction surgeries, but only if your doctor gives you a green light on that.

Risk Factors And Complications Of Intertrigo

  • Obesity is a big hindrance in curing intertrigo.
  • If you already suffer from diabetes, it is almost impossible to keep yourself dry as you will always sweat a lot. Also, high blood sugar levels increase your skin’s pH level which attracts bacteria and fungi.
  • Some people suffer from hyperhidrosis which is a tendency to sweat excessively. They are at high risk of being affected by intertrigo.
  • Those who lose a lot of weight suddenly have a lot of loose skin that causes friction and hence intertrigo.
  • Most infants and old people are affected by intertrigo because they have sensitive skin and low immunity.

When To Consult A Dermatologist About Intertrigo?

If you have a rash for a longer period of time and it starts to smell foul, it is better to consult a dermatologist. If you have had intertrigo earlier and have similar symptoms again, it is better to visit a dermatologist in the initial stage.

Frequently Asked Questions On Intertrigo

1. Will Intertrigo Go Away On Its Own?

Intertrigo should be treated in time or it may cause severe skin problems, formation of pus and infection in the deeper layers of the skin.Consult your doctor or dermatologist if the rashes are not going on their own.

2. What Is The Difference Between Intertrigo, Erythrasma And Tinea Cruris?

Intertrigo is caused by friction between two folds of skin. Erythrasma on the other hand, is a bacterial infection that also occurs on the folded areas of the skin. Tinea cruris is a fungal infection that causes rashes and irritation.

3. How Long Does Intertrigo Last?

If you thoroughly follow the treatment plans mentioned by your dermatologist, it may take up to 3-8 weeks for your intertrigo to clear out completely.

The Last Word

The next time you have a skin infection or rash, do not take it lightly. Do consult your dermatologist on time for an effective cure. As skin diseases not only bring physical irritation but also social stigma along with them, an early diagnosis and treatment are essential.

Know Your Dosha Now

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