Ask the GP: Getting on top of skin conditions
Advice from our GP on dealing with the skin infection, intertrigo.
Question: I have developed a rash beneath my breasts. It is red, itchy and irritating. I have large breasts and this is really uncomfortable for me. I have tried keeping the area dry with powder but it isn't helping. Is there anything else I can do?
Dr Nina replies: Intertrigo is an infection occurring in skin folds due to skin-on-skin friction. It is very common and can be found in any natural or obesity-created skin folds. The infection is facilitated by the moisture in skin folds where air can't circulate. Nappy rash is a form of intertrigo.
Toe web intertrigo is more common in those who wear tight-fitting shoes or in athletes. All forms of intertrigo are more common in those who are obese, diabetic or who are exposed to warm humid conditions.
Moist, damaged skin acts as a breeding ground for all kinds of micro-organisms. Initially the skin will appear red and inflamed.
In more advanced cases the skin may peel or scale and may appear wet or boggy.
Infection may cause weeping and oozing and there may be a foul smell. Your doctor will normally diagnose this condition purely by its appearance.
When treating intertrigo, keep the area cool and dry and avoid friction. Wear loose cotton clothing. The underwire in bras can cause friction and should be avoided.
Placing towels near the skin may absorb moisture. Barrier creams such as those used in infants can help in some cases.
Other treatment will depend on the cause. A good place to start is with an over-the-counter cream which combats candida or fungus as these are commonly present. If these don't help your GP may prescribe other anti-infective creams. In more severe cases anti-infective tablets may be advised.
The best way to avoid intetrigo is to maintain a healthy weight. Shower regularly and keep skin folds dry, especially when exposed to hot humid conditions.
Health & Living