Erythrasma is a chronic bacterial infection usually seen in skin folds.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Erythrasma is a very specific chronic skin infection caused by Corynebacterium minutissimum. The typical appearance is a reddish-brown slightly scaly patch with sharp borders. The lesions occur in moist areas such as the groin, axilla (armpit), and skin folds, and may itch slightly.

The incidence of erythrasma is higher in warm climates. It is most prevalent among individuals who are overweight or have diabetes.


The symptoms of erythrasma are mildly itchy, reddish-brown lesions most often found in the axilla, groin, between the toes, and in skin folds. the lesions may be slightly scaly.

Signs and tests

  • Wood’s lamp test (when examined under this ultraviolet light, the lesions glow a coral-red color)  
  • Culture of scrapings from the lesion Treatment Gently scrubbing the lesions with antibacterial soap may clear the disease. Topical erythromycin gel is very effective as well. In severe cases, your doctor may prescribe oral erythromycin. Expectations (prognosis) Complete recovery is expected following treatment. Calling your health care provider Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you or your child exhibit the scaly brown patches of erythrasma. Prevention These measures may reduce the risk of acquiring erythrasma:
    • Maintaining good hygiene  
    • Keeping the skin dry  
    • Wearing clean absorbent clothing  
    • Avoiding excessive heat or moisture  
    • Maintaining healthy body weight


    Johns Hopkins patient information

    Last revised: December 4, 2012
    by Amalia K. Gagarina, M.S., R.D.

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