What is Erythrasma?

Erythrasma is a skin infection caused by a bacterium called Corynebacterium minutissimum1, 2. Erythrasma affects wet fold areas of your skin such as armpit, groin, and between your toes.

Climate plays a crucial role in this condition; people who live in warm and humid areas are more likely to be affected by erythrasma2 – this is because warm conditions increase sweating, which makes folds of your skin moist thus allowing Coryne-bacterium minutissimum to thrive and cause Erythrasma.

Erythrasma is more common in men than women as well as in children.

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There are two types of erythrasma such as:


This form of erythrasma mostly affects your feet. It starts by affecting your toes and usually symptoms may not occur immediately.


This type of erythrasma is more prevalent in people suffering from diabetes mellitus type 2. It can start on any part of your body unlike interdigital erythrasma, which begins between your toes.


The bacterium called Coryne-bacterium minutissimum causes erythrasma. The bacterium attacks the moist folds of your skin such as armpits, groins and between toes.

Risk Factors

Poor hygiene

Poor hygiene practices that may cause erythrasma include wearing wet clothes or putting on clothes when your skin is wet after showering.

Sharing of towels can also contribute to the condition. When your skin is wet, it becomes a breeding place for Coryne-bacterium minutissimum, which causes erythrasma.

Immune disorder

Immune disorders are conditions that cause your immune system to start attacking healthy cells and tissues of your body. This lowers immunity in your body and as a result you become more vulnerable to any infection.


People who are diabetic are more likely to be infected with erythrasma.


The most common symptoms of erythrasma are:

  • Irritated feeling in your armpits, groins and inner thighs
  • You will notice dark brown or red color on your skin
  • In addition, your skin can develop dark spots or scaly red patches. This occurs in the area between your toes, especially the region between your fourth and fifth toe.

Erythrasma Symptoms

Fig: Dark brown skin as a result of erythrasma infection

  • When left untreated for a longer period, you will experience burning sensations in the affected areas.
  • Some people may feel weak or fatigued, headache and fever in case the infection is severe.

In some other people, these infections can develop under the breasts and buttocks. People with diabetes may experience the infection in their legs, trunk, and arms.


Physical examination

Your doctor can conduct physical assessment to diagnose you with erythrasma. The doctor looks at your skin to check for dark spots on the folds of your skin. Your doctor can also use a wood’s lamp to look at your skin.

Wood’s Lamp examination

A Wood’s lamp is a diagnostic tool that shines ultraviolet light to the skin without incision. If you have erythrasma, your doctor will see a bright coral-red fluorescence when ultraviolet light is shone on the affected area.

Lab tests

In addition, the doctor can take a sample of your reddish scales and analyses them in the lab to determine if you have a bacterial infection.



These are drugs used to treat bacterial infections. Antibiotics work by inhibiting growth of bacteria. Antibiotics can be given in several ways such as tablets or capsules, injection or creams, lotions, and sprays. Your doctor may prescribe the following forms of antibiotics basing on the severity of your symptoms:

  • Creams or lotions that have clindamycin to be applied on the affected area
  • Oral antibiotics like erythromycin.

Some antibiotics may not work well for some people who have kidney problems, are pregnant, or breastfeeding. In addition, some antibiotics may react with other medications and cause serious health problems.

Therefore, to avoid taking other medicines when you use antibiotics or when you notice side effects. Read the drug leaflets carefully and consult your health provider for advice when in doubt.

Antibacterial soap

You can use antibacterial soap to temporarily reduce burning feelings and itching. Use antibacterial soap to wash the affected area of your body.

Aluminum chloride solution

This is used to prevent sweating and moisture. It keeps your skin dry and inhibits bacteria reproduction, which causes skin infections.

Erythrasma Medicine


There are some simple and necessary tips you can embrace to prevent erythrasma. They include:

Practice good hygiene

Poor hygiene has been recognized as one of the many causes of skin infections today. You can practice good hygiene by keeping your skin dry. You can do this by using a dry towel to absorb all moisture on your skin immediately after showering. This will prevent growth of bacteria on moist places of your skin and protect you against skin infections.

In addition, avoid sharing towels with other people because you are more likely to get an infection if that person has a skin disease.

Regular exercise

Doing regular exercises boost your fitness level, reduces your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, minimizes weight gain and enhances self-esteem. Exercises also step up the immunity of the body meaning it can fight off infections more aggressively.

The best way to start exercising is to develop an exercise plan to guide you and be committed to the plan. You can begin by simple exercises like running, walking and gardening.

For more intense exercises, visit a gym class near you. They will teach you all types of exercises to strengthen your muscles and reduce weight. By reducing weight, you protect yourself against infections such as erythrasma and others.

Avoid excess heat and moisture

Stay away from places that are hot or humid. Hot places elevate your sweating level hence making your skin moist. Similarly, humid places make your skin wet. This allows bacteria to grow on damp areas of the skin hence causing infections.

Eat a balanced diet

Eating a balanced diet can help you maintain good health. Consuming a balanced diet means eating variety of foods in right proportions. You can eat the following foods:

  • Eat very little saturated fats and sugar because consuming excess will increase cholesterol level in your blood, which can cause heart attack.
  • Eat foods rich in proteins such as meat, milk, yoghurt, beans and fish as well as vitamin rich foods such vegetables, fruits and minerals.
  • Consume less of starchy foods. Try to eat the following foods rich in starch – brown rice, potatoes or wholegrain.
  • In addition take a lot of water to help remove toxic substances in your body.


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Reference List

  2. Erythrasma- causes, symptoms and treatment.
  3. Understanding Bacterial skin infections: Erythrasma.
  4. Erythrasma Diagnosis and Treatment.

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