This image displays a bacterial skin infection between the toes typical of erythrasma.
This image displays a bacterial skin infection between the toes typical of erythrasma.
This image displays a scaly rash typical of erythrasma, a bacterial skin infection common in body folds.
This image displays a scaly rash typical of erythrasma, a bacterial skin infection common in body folds.
The sharp boundary between the skin colors of the affected area and the normal skin is typical in erythrasma.
The sharp boundary between the skin colors of the affected area and the normal skin is typical in erythrasma.
Erythrasma is displayed as slowly enlarging brown or pink, rough areas in body folds.
Erythrasma is displayed as slowly enlarging brown or pink, rough areas in body folds.
This image shows the pink-red fluorescence of corynebacteria, an infection of the body folds known as erythrasma, shown under a
This image shows the pink-red fluorescence of corynebacteria, an infection of the body folds known as erythrasma, shown under a "woods lamp" in a dark room.
As displayed in this image, erythrasma often has a very sharp border.
As displayed in this image, erythrasma often has a very sharp border.

Graphic content

Please click to view.

This image displays the pink-brown, circular, slightly scaling patches of erythrasma found in moist skin-fold regions.
This image displays the pink-brown, circular, slightly scaling patches of erythrasma found in moist skin-fold regions.

Images of Erythrasma (7)

This image displays a bacterial skin infection between the toes typical of erythrasma.
This image displays a scaly rash typical of erythrasma, a bacterial skin infection common in body folds.
The sharp boundary between the skin colors of the affected area and the normal skin is typical in erythrasma.
Erythrasma is displayed as slowly enlarging brown or pink, rough areas in body folds.
This image shows the pink-red fluorescence of corynebacteria, an infection of the body folds known as erythrasma, shown under a
As displayed in this image, erythrasma often has a very sharp border.

Graphic content

This image displays the pink-brown, circular, slightly scaling patches of erythrasma found in moist skin-fold regions.

Erythrasma

Erythrasma is an infection of the top layer of the skin caused by the bacterium called Corynebacterium minutissimum. The infection often occurs in skin folds, where skin touches skin, such as:

  • Between the toes/fingers
  • Genital area
  • Armpits
  • Under the breasts

They look like brown patches and are not painful.

Who's At Risk?

Erythrasma can occur in anyone. However, males are more likely to be affected than women. Geographic location can also be a contributing factor in developing this condition; Erythrasma is especially prevalent in those who live in the tropics and tend to sweat more. Obesity can also be a factor due to skin folds. In addition, those with diabetes and cancer more likely than the average person to develop erythrasma.

Signs & Symptoms

Erythrasma looks like a patch of pink to red, scaly skin. The border of erythrasma is well-defined, or sharply delineated from normal skin. Over time, the pink or red color fades to tan or brown.

Erythrasma is typically located in moist body folds such as:

  • Under the arms (axillae)
  • In the groin and inner thighs
  • Between the toes, especially between the 4th and 5th toes

Less commonly, erythrasma can be found in the buttock crevice or in the folds underneath the breasts. In certain individuals, especially in those with diabetes, the infection can become widespread and can involve the trunk, arms, and legs.

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

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Symptom checkers like Aysa can help narrow down possible skin conditions by analyzing a skin photo.

Self-Care Guidelines

If you suspect that you have erythrasma, try:

  • Gently scrubbing the involved area with antibacterial soap
  • Keeping the involved area dry
  • Applying over-the-counter creams containing tolnaftate or miconazole
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Treatments

Once the diagnosis of erythrasma is established, the doctor may try one of the following treatments:

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

Visit Urgency

If the involved skin does not improve with self-care measures, then you should make an appointment to see a health care provider.

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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.