Intertrigo, a common skin concern, is notorious for flaring in response to hot humid weather. Intertrigo affects the health of the areas hidden by heavy skin folds. Heat and humidity along with darkness combine to create the proper conditions for the infection which causes intertrigo. Intertrigo is basically a yeast infection of the skin found under skin folds. The delicate skin under the breasts is most prone to developing intertrigo. Other areas that can become affected include the area under abdominal folds and sometimes folds on the thighs or pubic areas.
Intertrigo is due to the overgrowth of yeast called candida albicans. This yeast does not normally live on the skin. Moisture builds under the skin fold and the yeast flourish leading to symptoms such as redness, scaling and significant itching. The skin may develop some raw spots. Little red bumps and pustules may be present. Typically the involved skin is red in color. Intertrigo becomes most serious as a source of secondary infection.
Treatment is aimed at eradicating the infection AND focusing on the environmental issues that are present. If this is not done, it is likely that intertrigo will be a chronic concern. Your approach to intertrigo is summarized in 3 key points:
Dry It - Treat It - Prevent It
A simple way to help heal intertrigo, regardless of severity is to allow air to reach the affected region. Keeping the area as cool and dry as possible is the key here. Twice a day, lift up the skin fold (abdominal fold, breast, etc.), and allow air to circulate. This should be for a good 10 minutes if possible. Lying down may make this easier. After bathing, using a hair dryer on the cool setting and drying the affected areas can help control flare-ups. Applying an absorbent powder is easy to do after washing. Make certain you avoid the use of cornstarch based body powders. Cornstarch acts as a veritable feast for candida. A talc-based powder is your best solution, preferably one that is medicated.
Working in rooms cooled with air conditioning can help reduce sweating and keep the area drier. Skin surfaces in deep folds can be kept separated with cotton or linen cloth, but be sure to avoid tight, occlusive, or chafing clothing or dressings.
The last thing you want to do is apply goopy wet creams or ointments to the area which is going to make the area ripe for further flare-ups. Mycostatin Powder (prescription) can be applied it 3-4 times a day if possible. The powder helps keep the area dry as well as kills the yeast. Mycostatin powder can be used on a maintenance basis to help prevent intertrigo when regular powders donít work. If another yeast killing product is required, some doctors use Nizoral Cream. Whatever cream you are going to apply should be used sparingly and rubbed into the skin leaving no surface trace of it.
A KOH test on skin scrapings under the microscope helps to diagnose this condition. The test may be falsely negative due to recent antifungal use. A fungal culture can also be done. If there is not evidence of yeast, the problem may be due to some other condition such as psoriasis or a latex allergy.