How to beat and manage intertrigo in this heat wave

As the blazing heat wave continues to set in, do you find yourself struggling with unbearable itching under your arms? It could be intertrigo striking. Intertrigo, also known as skin chafing or chafing dermatitis, is a common skin condition.

The hot weather leads to profuse sweating, making it the peak time for intertrigo flare-ups. Intertrigo is an acute inflammation or rash that occurs in skin folds. Rubbing of the skin in these folds and exposure to a humid environment cause the skin to become soaked, resulting in the peeling off of the outer layer of skin. This leads to skin breakdown and the appearance of chafing.

Commonly affected areas include under the arms, in the groin, between toes, under the breasts, and in neck folds—anywhere the skin is warmer, moist, and prone to friction. Symptoms of intertrigo include moist, red patches, erosions, a feeling of burning, itching, tenderness, and sometimes even a foul odour.

Who is at risk?

Anyone of any age can develop intertrigo. Besides individuals with immune deficiencies, impaired sweat evaporation, obesity, or hyperhidrosis, common patients include infants wearing diapers, frail elderly individuals, and patients who are bedridden or have urinary incontinence.

Using diapers creates friction with the surrounding skin and, combined with exposure to urine, faeces, sweat, or secretions in poor hygiene conditions, provides a warm and humid environment, making skin chafing likely.

Obese or individuals with loose skin are prone to “frictional dermatitis” due to repeated rubbing of the skin in folds, commonly seen in areas such as the groin folds, sagging skin, abdominal creases, or neck creases.

Also, wearing clothes made of materials that don’t absorb sweat well or are irritating can also trigger intertrigo. Allergens or irritants found in soap, detergents, some perfumes or colognes, fragrances, moisturisers, and diaper wipes containing preservatives can also cause inflammatory reactions leading to skin chafing, especially if not thoroughly washed off the skin after contact.

Recurrence, secondary infection, or complications

If measures are not taken to eliminate factors contributing to skin chafing, inflammation usually continues to recur and is more likely to lead to secondary infections or complications. Secondary eczema, candidal intertrigo, fungal, or other bacterial infections may develop and exacerbate the condition, even leading to worsening symptoms such as scaling, satellite papules, scales, pustules, and crusts.

Even after healing, deeper pigmentation or spots may remain, and other inflammatory diseases may also present with red patches of skin chafing, such as psoriasis, tinea cruris, psoriasis, eczema, and contact dermatitis.

To differentiate skin infections or lesions, doctors may use methods such as skin biopsy, potassium hydroxide skin scrapings (KOH Preparation), Wood’s lamp examination, or dermatoscopy to identify possible fungal, candidal, fungal, or scabies infections.

Treatment and prevention

Minimising wetness and friction in skin folds is the mainstay of treatment for intertrigo. If secondary infections or complications occur, doctors will prescribe medications accordingly, recommending the use of antifungal, anti-candidal, or antimicrobial drugs and ointments depending on the type of infection, to provide anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects simultaneously.

Severe cases may require using milder topical corticosteroids, with significant improvement in patient symptoms typically seen within a few weeks, and a reduction in the risk of secondary infections or complications.

Preventive measures include washing the skin with mild soap and warm water daily, drying the affected area with a hairdryer in a cool environment, and applying talcum powder. It is important to choose clothing and underwear made of soft, clean, breathable materials, preferably cotton or sweat-absorbing materials.

Those who sweat heavily should keep their bodies dry and clean, thoroughly wiping away sweat. Overweight individuals should reduce their weight, while those with loose skin may consider eliminating sagging skin creases. Infants or patients who use diapers should choose soft cotton diapers and change them frequently.

With the current stay of this heat wave, skin problems are common. To avoid incessant itching and its impact on appearance, seek medical attention promptly if your skin appears abnormal, and avoid using medication indiscriminately.

This article was syndicated from Marie Claire Hong Kong
Translated and adapted by Praise Vandeh, Marie Claire Nigeria Content Writer


React to this post!
No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.