Who is at risk for developing a fungal rash?

People who are more likely to develop a fungal rash include those who:

  • are taking high-dose or long-term antibiotics or immunosuppressant drugs and/or have had a change in these or other medications
  • are overweight
  • are diabetics
  • are incontinent (moisture gets trapped against the skin, causing skin damage)
  • perspire heavily
  • have a loss of mobility (are unable to maintain independent toileting)
  • have used a new skin care product that irritates the skin

What does a fungal rash look like, feel like, and where is it more likely to occur?

A fungal rash is fiery-red in color and can spread across a large area. The color may be more intense at the center and may lack a distinct border. Smaller, more defined lesions may be present on the outer perimeter of the rash area. The rash may itch or burn. The rash is commonly seen across the buttocks but may extend into the groin area and thighs.

If a fungal rash occurs, how should the area be cleansed and treated?

  • Position the patient comfortably. Place a disposable basin, bedpan or towel under the affected area to protect the linens or furniture.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Put on your exam gloves.
  • Cleanse area gently and thoroughly. Do not rub the affected area.
  • Pat the skin dry with a soft towel.
  • Apply an anti-fungal preparation.
    • If the rash area is dry, apply a thin layer of anti-fungal cream until it is absorbed into the skin. (If patient is incontinent, the anti-fungal cream must be applied after every incidence of incontinence).
    • If the rash area is moist (especially where skin-to-skin contact is present), dust with an anti-fungal powder and brush off the excess powder.
  • If the patient has not been prescribed an anti-fungal product, look for over-the-counter products that contain 2% miconazole.
  • If the patient is incontinent, apply a thin layer of moisture barrier ointment over the anti-fungal cream.
  • Remove your gloves carefully and discard properly.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Note: As the rash heals, the skin becomes dry and flaky. Make sure to apply moisturizing creams and lotions to hydrate the skin, which prevents cracking and the development of fissures.

How can fungal rashes be prevented from occurring or recurring?

  • Avoid using heavily perfumed soap, which can be irritating to the skin.
  • After bathing, dry the skin well with a soft cloth.
  • If incontinence briefs are used, do not purchase the briefs with plastic liners. These products retain moisture. Also, leave the briefs open as much as possible. This will allow air to reach the rash and help to dry it out.
  • If there are skin folds (two skin surfaces that touch each other) in the area of the rash, place a soft cloth or cotton pad between the folds to prevent moisture from accumulating in the area, which decreases the chance of skin infections developing.
  • Once the rash is healed, use a barrier cream (eg, products containing petrolatum, dimethicone, and zinc oxide) to prevent the rash from recurring.
  • Drink plenty of liquids to help keep skin supple.

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 7/6/2005...#4276