Erythrasma

51539 33 Information for
caption goes here...

Images of Erythrasma

Overview

Erythrasma is a common chronic skin condition affecting the skin folds. The slowly enlarging patches of pink-to-brown, dry skin are caused by an infection with the bacterium called Corynebacterium minutissimum.

Who's at risk?

Erythrasma can affect people of any age or race, but it is more common among people who live in warm, humid climates. Children between 5 and 14 years make up 15% of those infected with erythrasma. It occurs more as children get older, and it is seen more frequently in teens and adults. Erythrasma is also more common in dark-skinned people. Although both sexes are equally affected, men tend to have the groin infection more often than women.

The following conditions may increase the likelihood of getting erythrasma:

  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Excessive sweating
  • Poor hygiene
  • Weak immune system (immune deficiency)

Signs and Symptoms

Erythrasma looks like a patch of pink-to-red, scaly skin. The border of erythrasma looks clearly different from normal skin, meaning that its edges are well-defined. Over time, the pink or red color fades to tan or brown.

Erythrasma is typically located in moist body folds such as:

  • In the underarms
  • In the groin and inner thighs
  • Between the toes, especially between the 4th and 5th toes
Less commonly, erythrasma can be found in the buttocks crevice or in the folds underneath the breasts. In some people, especially those with diabetes, the infection can become widespread, affecting the trunk, arms, and legs.

Erythrasma usually causes no symptoms, but some people report mild itching or burning, especially in the groin area.

Self-Care Guidelines

If you suspect that your child has erythrasma, try:

  • Gently scrubbing the involved area with antibacterial soap
  • Keeping the involved area dry
  • Applying over-the-counter creams containing tolnaftate or miconazole
  • Dressing your child in loose clothing

When to Seek Medical Care

See your child's doctor if the affected skin does not improve with self-care measures.

Treatments Your Physician May Prescribe

Once the diagnosis of erythrasma is confirmed, the doctor may try:

  • Topical antibiotic lotions such as erythromycin or clindamycin
  • Whitfield's ointment (a mixture of benzoic acid and salicylic acid)
  • Aluminum chloride solution to reduce sweating and moisture
  • Oral antibiotics such as erythromycin

Trusted Links

Clinical Information and Differential Diagnosis of Erythrasma

References

Bolognia, Jean L., ed. Dermatology, pp.1110, 1128. New York: Mosby, 2003.

Freedberg, Irwin M., ed. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 6th ed, pp.1102, 1848, 1876-1877. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003.