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Erythrasma

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Erythrasma is a very common skin condition that affects the groin, under the arms and in between the toes.

Erythrasma is an infection of the skin caused by an overgrowth of a bacterium called Corynebacterium minutissimum. It can affect healthy adults, but it more frequently affects older people with obesity, excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis), diabetes mellitus or people who live in tropical climates. Infection is facilitated under conditions of moisture and occlusion.

Erythrasma appears as well-defined scaly red, pink or brown patches. The most commonly affected areas are the groin, armpits, between the toes and in other skin folds. It can sometimes become generalized and affect larger areas on the body. The patches can sometimes be itchy or have an odor.

Normal Lighting. This image is reproduced with the permission of Dr Deshan Sebaratnam
Woods Lighting. This image is reproduced with the permission of Dr Deshan Sebaratnam

Erythrasma is diagnosed based on the history and physical appearance of the lesions. A special lamp called a Wood’s lamp can be used to help confirm the diagnosis, as erythrasma glows bright pink under the lamp.

Erythrasma can be treated with either topical (applied directly to the skin) or oral therapies. For patients with localised disease, a topical antibiotic such as clindamycin or erythromycin can be used. On the hand, it can be difficult to treat extensive areas with creams and so oral antibiotics (clindamycin or erythromycin) may be preferred.   It is important to note that recurrence is common.

Most onychomycosis, when treated early and correctly, will not result in permanent nail damage or deformity.

This information has been written by Dr Jose W Ricardo and Dr Deshan Sebaratnam
Published: 24th June 2019

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