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Erythrasma

Definition

Erythrasma is a long-term skin infection caused by bacteria. It commonly occurs in skin folds. 

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Erythrasma is caused by the bacteria Corynebacterium minutissimum.

Erythrasma is more common in warm climates. You are more likely to develop this condition if you are overweight or have diabetes.

Symptoms

The main symptoms are reddish-brown slightly scaly patches with sharp borders. They may itch slightly. The patches occur in moist areas such as the groin, armpit, and skin folds. The patches often look similar to other fungal infections, such as ringworm.

Signs and tests

Treatment

Gently scrubbing the skin patches with antibacterial soap may help them go away. Your doctor may prescribe erythromycin gel that you put on the skin. If the condition is very bad, you may need to take this medicine in pill form. 

Expectations (prognosis)

The condition should go away after treatment. 

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of erythrasma.

Prevention

You may be able to reduce the risk of erythrasma if you:

  • Bathe or shower often
  • Keep your skin dry
  • Wear clean cloths that absorb moisture
  • Avoid very hot or damp conditions
  • Maintain a healthy body weight

References

Habif TP. Superficial and fungal infections. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 13.

Millett CR, Hapern AV, Reboli AC, et al. Bacterial Diseases. In: Bolognia JL, Jorizzo JL, Schaffer JV, et al, eds.Dermatology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2012:chap 74.



 


Review Date: 11/20/2012
Reviewed By: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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