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4 Things Diabetics Need To Know About Intertrigo

Diabetes can result in a number of complications throughout your body, and unfortunately, your skin is no exception. One of the skin complications that is associated with diabetes is intertrigo, also known as intertriginous dermatitis, a rash that affects the skin folds. Here are four things you need to know about intertrigo.

What are the signs of intertrigo?

If you have intertrigo, you'll notice a red, raw-looking rash in the warm, moist folds of your skin. This rash can be either painful or itchy, and it may ooze fluids. In severe cases, the affected skin may crack or bleed.

Generally, the rash appears in areas like your armpits, inner thighs, or the underside of your stomach. The rash can also develop between your toes, and if you've lost sensation in your feet due to diabetes, you may not notice the discomfort associated with the rash; you'll need to visually inspect your feet for signs of this rash. If you think you have intertrigo, see a dermatologist as soon as possible.

How does diabetes cause it?

Intertrigo occurs due to chafing of moist skin, but diabetes can play a role. Diabetes can lead to increased sweating, and this excessive sweat creates the perfect environment for intertrigo by ensuring that your skin folds are moist. Diabetes is also closely associated with excess weight (85% of diabetics are overweight) and this excess weight can create skin folds in various parts of your body. 

While intertrigo is caused by chafing and moisture, it can be complicated by fungal infections. When you have a high blood glucose level, your sweat also has more sugar, and this provides food for the fungi, encouraging the infection. 

How can you prevent it?

There are many things that diabetics can do to avoid developing intertrigo. Minimizing chafing and controlling sweat are key if you want to prevent this rash. You can minimize chafing by wearing supportive undergarments, like bras and high-waisted underpants, as these garments can help prevent skin folds. To control sweat, choose lightweight clothes and try to stick to fabrics that wick sweat away from your body. Athletic wear is ideal for this as it is designed to keep people comfortable during very sweaty workouts, but any cotton or linen clothing should be fine.

If you're overweight, losing weight can also help you prevent intertrigo as it reduces the depth of the skin folds on your body, and may get rid of them entirely. It can also help you reduce the chafing on your thighs. Even if you're a healthy weight, you should try to keep your blood glucose levels within the normal range to avoid  developing intertrigo that is infected with fungi. 

How do dermatologists treat it?

To treat intertrigo, the factors that are causing it need to be controlled. If friction is a problem, your dermatologist, someone like Dermatology Associates, may tell you to separate your skin folds with a cotton cloth. If excessive sweating is a factor, you may be told to use air conditioning, wear light clothing, and apply antiperspirant to affected areas.

In addition to these remedies, your dermatologist may prescribe medications like topical steroids or protective barrier creams. Topical steroids reduce inflammation and will help to heal your rash, while protective barrier creams will protect the area from further chafing while it heals.

If the affected skin has become infected by fungi, your dermatologist will prescribe antifungal medications. These medications may be given in the form of creams or pills, depending on the extent of the infection.

If you are diabetic and have developed a rash on your skin folds, you may have intertrigo and should see a dermatologist.