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Erythrasma

INTRODUCTION

Erythrasma is a superficial infection of the skin caused by Corynebacterium minutissimum, a gram-positive, non-spore forming bacillus. The disorder typically presents as macerated, scaly plaques between the toes or erythematous to brown patches or thin plaques in intertriginous areas. Erythrasma is managed with short courses of either topical or systemic therapy.

The epidemiology, clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and treatment of erythrasma, as well as a brief overview of other C. minutissimum infections will be discussed here.

EPIDEMIOLOGY AND RISK FACTORS

The prevalence of erythrasma is difficult to assess, as many patients do not seek treatment or may have subclinical infection. In one study of 754 college students, 19 percent were infected with erythrasma [1]. Another study of 874 patients in an institutional setting found a prevalence rate as high as 43 percent [2]. The prevalence of interdigital erythrasma in other cohorts ranges from 20 percent in patients attending a dermatology clinic to greater than 50 percent in soldiers [3,4].

Erythrasma often occurs in healthy adults [1], but diabetic, elderly, or immunocompromised patients have increased risk for the disorder [5]. The infection can be a presenting sign of type II diabetes, occurring before persistent glucose abnormalities [6]. Conditions that lead to increased occlusion and moisture of intertriginous areas are also believed to contribute to erythrasma, including obesity, hyperhidrosis and living in tropical climates. Erythrasma is rare in children [7,8].

PATHOGENESIS

Erythrasma is caused by C. minutissimum, a component of the normal skin flora. C. minutissimum is a gram positive, non-spore forming, aerobic or facultative bacillus. The bacterium is catalase-positive, and will ferment glucose and mannose in all cases and sucrose in some cases [9].

               

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Literature review current through: Jun 2014. | This topic last updated: Apr 18, 2014.
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References
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