Erythrasma (bacterial infection of skin): Causes, description, Treatment

Skin | Dermatology | Erythrasma (bacterial infection of skin) (Disease)

Erythrasma (bacterial infection of skin): Description

Erythrasma looks like a chronic fungal infection. Scaling, cracks, and slight maceration (softening) typically occur in the toe webs, almost always the 3rd and 4th interspaces. Where the thighs contact the scrotum, sharp-edged patches first appear irregular and pink and later become brown with a fine scale. Erythrasma may also involve the armpits, creases below the breasts, abdominal folds, and perineum, particularly in obese middle-aged women or in patients with diabetes mellitus. Erythrasma can be distinguished from ringworm with a Woods light (a type of UV light) which causes erythrasma characteristically to fluoresce a coral-red color.

The patches of erythrasma are initially pink, but progress quickly to become brown and scaly (as skin starts to shed), which are classically sharply demarcated. Erythrasmic patches are typically found in intertriginous areas (skin fold areas – e. g. armpit, groin, under breast) – with the toe web-spaces being most commonly involved. The patient is commonly otherwise asymptomatic.

Causes and Risk factors

Erythrasma is a skin disease that causes brown, scaly skin patches. It is caused by the Gram-positive bacterium Corynebacterium minutissimum. It is prevalent among diabetics and the obese, and in warm climates; it is worsened by wearing occlusive clothing.

Erythrasma (bacterial infection of skin): Treatment and Diagnosis

The diagnosis can be made on the clinical picture alone.

The treatment for erythrasma is an antibiotic (such as erythromycin or tetracycline). Antibacterial soaps can also help control the infection. However, recurrence 6 to 12 months later is commonplace

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