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Sylvia Brice, MD
Mariah Brown, MD
Section Editors
Robert P Dellavalle, MD, PhD, MSPH
Ted Rosen, MD
Deputy Editor
Abena O Ofori, MD


Erythrasma is a superficial infection of the skin caused by Corynebacterium minutissimum, a gram-positive, non-spore forming bacillus (picture 1). The disorder typically presents as macerated, scaly plaques between the toes or erythematous to brown patches or thin plaques in intertriginous areas (picture 2A-G). 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.


Erythrasma is a common disorder. However, the prevalence of erythrasma is difficult to assess, as many patients do not seek treatment or have subclinical infection. In one study of 754 college students in the UK published in 1970, 19 percent were infected with erythrasma [1]. Another study of 874 patients in an institutional setting in the UK, also published in 1970, 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]. Interdigital erythrasma frequently goes unrecognized in clinical practice; a 2010 Turkish study of 122 patients with clinical findings suggestive of interdigital tinea pedis found that 47 percent had erythrasma, including many who had both tinea pedis and erythrasma [5].

Erythrasma often occurs in healthy adults [1], but diabetic, older adult, or immunocompromised patients have increased risk for the disorder [6]. The infection can be a presenting sign of type 2 diabetes, occurring before persistent glucose abnormalities [7]. 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 [8,9].


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Literature review current through: Jul 2015. | This topic last updated: Mar 16, 2015.
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