Erythrasm: symptoms and treatment

Erythrazma — bacterial damage of the skin in areas of large folds. Externally, the disorder is expressed by the appearance of spots of various shades, for example, gray, pink, brownish-red or yellow-brown. The disease differs from other dermatological disorders in that only the upper layers of the skin are affected, while the hair and nails remain untouched.

Such an ailment is caused by a microorganism belonging to the groups of corynebacteria. Often, the bacterium affects adults, mostly men, rather than women. Characterized by a positive course and does not cause a person discomfort. Symptoms of the manifestation of erythrasms are the manifestation of specific spots with clear edges. The foci on the skin are covered with small peeling and cracks.

Ways of infecting such an ailment of the skin are quite a lot starting from sexual intercourse and contact with objects of everyday life of an infected person, ending with walks barefoot on sand or grass. Places of localization can be — areas between the toes, axillary cavities, fat folds on the abdomen, under the breast, in the scrotum and groin. The peculiarity of the disease is that it is characterized by chronic course and frequent periods of relapse.

Diagnosing erythrazma is quite simple. This is due to the fact that during diagnostic activities a special fluorescent lamp is used. By inducing it on the lesions, one can notice a characteristic reddish glow in the spots. In addition, the ailment has a specific clinical manifestation and a microscopic picture. Treatment of erythrasms is based on the treatment of foci, the use of antibiotics and physiotherapy. Comprehensive therapy may include folk medicine, but they can only be used after consultation with the attending physician.


In all people, the bacterium that causes erythrasma is present on the skin in a small amount, but under the influence of favorable factors, its numbers increase, which leads to the manifestation of foci of inflammation on the skin. Such favorable factors are:

  • increased sweating, which has nothing to do with exercise, for example, while visiting a bath or sauna
  • production conditions in which a person is forced to spend a large amount of time in a room with a high humidity percentage
  • prolonged exposure to uncomfortable clothing or narrow shoes on the skin
  • long-term effects of liquid on the skin
  • Diabetes mellitus — people with this disease constitute the main risk group for the disorder,
  • excessively high body weight — quite often erythrasma is localized in places of fat folds on the abdomen, under the chest or in the groin in men
  • contact with household items or bathroom accessories of an infected person
  • unprotected sexual intercourse
  • walking barefoot on the ground, sand or grass
  • non-observance of personal hygiene or, conversely, frequent washing with soap that reduces the protective functions of the human skin.

Thus, it becomes clear that infection with erythrasma is carried out only by a contact route.


At the first stages of its course, erythrasma does not manifest itself, except that pale spots begin to appear on the skin that do not cause pain, but are clearly delineated from healthy skin. In diameter, the foci can reach several centimeters. As the disease progresses and the growth of the spots, they can merge with each other, under the condition of localization in one area. Inflamed foci begin to take a yellow-brown, red-brown, pink or gray color.

The disease is often formed in areas of large skin folds. In men, this is the area of ​​the anus, the inside of the hips near the scrotum or groin. In women, this skin around the navel, axillary hollows and under the breast. Because the disorder does not manifest itself as an active expression of symptoms, spot detection occurs entirely by accident. For this reason, when seeking help from a dermatologist, a chronic form of the disease is diagnosed.

In some cases, such signs as significant soreness, itching and burning sensation may appear. This suggests that secondary disease or an inflammatory process has joined the underlying disease.

In most cases, erythrasma takes place over a period of ten years or more, since people attribute the manifestation of certain symptoms to other factors. In such cases, periods of exacerbation occur in the warm season of the year, when comfortable conditions contribute to an increase in the number of bacteria.


Due to specific external signs and typical localization of foci for an experienced dermatologist, it is not difficult to diagnose such a disorder. Diagnostic measures must necessarily include a detailed interview of the patient — to identify possible causes of manifestation of the disease, the presence and severity of symptoms. In addition, the specialist performs an examination of the affected areas of the skin.

The patient’s hardware examinations include:

  1. luminescent research using a special Wood lamp. The examination is carried out only on the untreated area of ​​the affected skin, since washing or any treatment can wash away the pigment released by the microorganisms, which glows red in this light;
  2. scraping — is carried out from the affected area of ​​the skin for subsequent microscopic examinations.

These procedures form the basis of the diagnosis of erythrasma, since this disease must be differentiated from other dermatological disorders. In particular, such as lichen, candidiasis of the skin, eczema, dermatitis. It is very important to distinguish inguinal erythrasma from rubromycosis. In this situation, pay attention to the outline of the spots. With rubromycosis it is intermittent, and with erythrasma — continuous. In some cases, additional tests are carried out — bacteriological sowing of the scraping. Such an exercise is necessary to determine the sensitivity of the microbe to antibiotics. The obtained data give information on what medicines to treat the disease.


Treatment of erythrasms is based on the use of external medicamentous products with exfoliating and disinfecting action. Such ointments should be rubbed into the foci for one week. In addition, the stains should be treated with alcohol and iodine solutions. When the stages of erythrasms are very neglected, antibiotic treatment is used.

Ultraviolet rays have a good disinfecting and drying effect, which not only prevents the formation of exacerbations of the disorder, but also significantly accelerate the healing process. That’s why patients need to regularly undergo procedures of local UV and stay in direct sunlight, but only in the morning and in the evening. These actions must be performed until they are fully recovered.

If such a disease was diagnosed in a patient with diabetes mellitus, then before starting therapy it is necessary to consult about the use of certain medications to control the level of sugar in the blood. To prevent self-infection and more successful treatment, you must constantly disinfect bed linens, personal hygiene products, as well as shoes and clothing.

In addition, in the treatment of erythrasms, you can use folk remedies. Such therapy implies the preparation of decoctions, ointments and compresses from the following herbs and plants:

  • The cocklebur is a poisonous plant, the decoction of which must be taken orally, strictly following the instructions and dosage;
  • Linen
  • celandine
  • Propolis
  • Birch buds
  • the root of the yellow egg capsule
  • lemon juice
  • Bullfinch

It should be remembered that folk remedies should not be the only way of therapy for this disease, they should be used as part of a comprehensive treatment. Before using them, it is necessary to consult a specialist.


To avoid the appearance of erythrasma, several simple rules must be observed:

  1. take a bath or shower every day, regardless of the time of the year
  2. carefully wipe after water procedures with a soft towel
  3. Use powder and deodorant to avoid excessive sweating
  4. refuse to wear uncomfortable or tight clothes and underwear
  5. monitor normal body weight.

To prevent recurrences of this disorder, it is necessary to treat the skin with camphor alcohol for a month after the symptoms stop, then apply the talc to the skin. At early diagnostics and competent complex treatment it is possible to achieve full recovery. If you put the problem on its own, the outlook is less consoling.