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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Prevention and treatment of intertrigo in large skin folds of adults: a systematic review

Patriek Mistiaen1* and Meike van Halm-Walters2

Author Affiliations

1 NIVEL, Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research, PO Box 1568, 3500 BN Utrecht, The Netherlands

2 LEVV, The Netherlands Centre of Excellence in Nursing, PO Box 3135, 3502 GC Utrecht, The Netherlands

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BMC Nursing 2010, 9:12  doi:10.1186/1472-6955-9-12

Published: 13 July 2010



Intertrigo in the large skin folds is a common problem. There is a plethora of treatments, but a lack of evidence about their efficacy. A nursing guideline on this matter had to be updated and broadened in scope to other health care professionals.


A systematic review was performed. Thirteen databases were sensitively searched, supplemented by reference tracking and forward citation searches. All types of empirical research relating to the prevention or treatment of intertrigo were included. Study selection, assessment of bias, data-extraction and analysis were done by two independent review-authors.


Sixty-eight studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Only 4 studies were RCTs and even these had a considerable risk of bias. Study populations were generally small.

No studies were found about the prevention of intertrigo. The therapies concerned mostly the topical application of antimycotics, corticosteroids, antibiotics, antiseptics or a combination of these. Besides these pharmaceutical interventions, surgical breast reduction was also studied. Although most study-authors were positive, we could not draw firm conclusions about any of the pharmaceutical interventions. Even patients that received placebo intervention showed improvement. There is weak evidence that reduction mammaplasty may be helpful to treat inframammary intertrigo. All research found had considerable risk of bias, prohibiting firm conclusions.


There is no evidence at all about the prevention of intertrigo and there is no firm evidence about its treatment. Well designed studies are needed.