Definition of Erythrasma

Erythrasma: A chronic superficial slowly spreading skin infection, especially in the folds of the body and webs between the toes, caused by a bacterium called Corynebacterium minutissimum. Erythrasma most often affects adults, especially those with diabetes, and people in the tropics.

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 plaques 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 Wood's light (a type of UV light) which causes erythrasma characteristically to fluoresce a coral-red color.

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.


Last Editorial Review: 9/20/2012

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