Sweat rash (intertrigo)

Sweat rash (intertrigo) is a common skin condition, especially in hot and humid climates and during the summer. 

Also known as intertrigo, sweat rash is an inflammation of the skin that occurs when your skin is moist and has been subjected to friction. Sweat rash most commonly appears in areas where your skin rubs together and where there is less air circulation such as under your armpits, in the groin area, under your breasts and between abdominal skin folds. Sweat rash commonly becomes infected by fungi called candida resulting in fungal sweat rash – also known as candida intertrigo. 

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Fungal sweat rash symptoms

    You might have fungal sweat rash if you notice:

    • A red rash with scaling around the edge
    • Sore or stinging skin
    • Itchy or burning skin
    • Broken skin (in the space between fingers or toes)
    • Weeping skin
    • Blisters
    • Foul-smelling odour (if it has become infected with candida)

    See your doctor if:

    • Your fungal sweat rash persists following treatment
    • Your sweat rash symptoms are caused by being overweight and you would like advice on losing weight
    • You are pregnant or elderly. Anti-fungal medication may not be suitable for you and you should consult your doctor

    Understanding sweat rash

    Sweat rash (intertrigo) symptoms start as a red rash in your skin folds that may itch, sting or burn. If a secondary infection (caused by candida yeast, other types of fungus or bacteria) develops, the sweat rash may become more inflamed and have a foul-smelling odour.

    What causes sweat rash?

    Sweat rash is caused by moist areas of skin rubbing together. The main causes of sweat rash include moisture, heat, lack of air circulation and friction between skin folds. Additionally, sweat, urine and faeces can make this condition worse. Candida thrives under these conditions and you can quickly develop a fungal sweat rash infection.

    Who is at risk at getting sweat rash?

    Whilst anyone can get it, sweat rash tends to affect those who are overweight or have diabetes. 

    You are also more likely to get sweat rash if you:

    • Are exposed to hot and humid conditions
    • Wear tight clothing that doesn’t allow your skin to breathe
    • Have a splint, brace or artificial limb
    • Are incontinent 
    • Have been confined to a bed for a long period of time
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    Sweat rash treatment

    You can treat fungal sweat rash with easily applied anti-fungal products in cream or spray formulation.

    It’s best to treat fungal sweat rash as soon as possible to prevent it from getting worse. Anti-fungal sweat rash creams and sprays are easy to apply and normally contain anti-fungal ingredients such as clotrimazole. 

    If you have symptoms of inflammation, you can use a combination treatment containing both a mild corticosteroid (e.g. hydrocortisone) and an anti-fungal medication to treat your fungal sweat rash. 

    Canesten® offers anti-fungal only treatments as well as a hydrocortisone containing combination treatment. 

    Canesten® sweat rash treatment

    Canesten® offers a range of fungal sweat rash (candidal intertrigo) treatments which will effectively treat your fungal infection. They are easy to apply and penetrate your skin to stop fungal growth, destroy the fungi and relieve your fungal sweat rash symptoms such as irritated and itchy skin. The treatments are available from your local pharmacy and supermarket pharmacies. 

    • Canesten® Dermatological Spray - This convenient spray is ideal for hard to reach areas. Like our Canesten® Cream, it contains the anti-fungal ingredient clotrimazole, which effectively treats your fungal sweat rash infection, whilst relieving your uncomfortable symptoms.
    • Canesten® Hydrocortisone Athlete’s Foot 1% w/w Cream – Is the only treatment you can buy formulated with a combination of clotrimazole and hydrocortisone acetate. The active anti-fungal ingredient clotrimazole effectively treats your fungal sweat rash infection, while hydrocortisone acetate treats the associated inflammation. 

    How to prevent sweat rash

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    Keep the affected areas of the skin dry, cool and exposed to air.

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    Avoid rubbing when drying your skin to prevent damaging your skin which can make it vulnerable to infection.

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    Clean your skin gently and apply a moisturiser or barrier cream.

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    Avoid tight-fitting clothes that may rub your skin and choose natural fabrics (like cotton) over synthetic fibres (like lycra and nylon) as the latter reduce the amount of air which reaches the skin.

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    Always wash your hands after applying a treatment to avoid spreading infection.

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    Use fragrance-free soaps and other skin products to minimise irritation.

    Facts about sweat rash

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    Sweat rash is common during the warm summer months.

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    Sweat rash appears in areas with less air circulation, such as your armpits, in the groin area, under your breasts or under abdominal skin folds.

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    People who are overweight, who have a weakened immune system due to HIV or who suffer from diabetes have a much higher chance of developing sweat rash.