Macerated Skin Happens Often And Heals Quickly - What Is It?

Macerated skin sounds scary, but in reality, it's not. Most of us have experienced maceration of the skin at some point in our lives, but typically it goes away just as quickly as it appears.

FirstQuote Health Staff
Published on
February 1, 2023
Last Updated on
October 6, 2023
Band-aid going around an index finger

Skin maceration is a common condition in which the skin becomes pale and soft due to prolonged exposure to moisture. It can occur on any area of the body, but is more commonly found in areas prone to trapping moisture such as underneath breasts or between toes. An estimated 20% of Americans have experienced macerated skin at least once in their life, with many experiencing it multiple times. Treatment for macerated skin is not always easy or straightforward, so understanding the causes and risk factors associated with this condition is key to managing it and preventing future occurrences. Therefore, it's important to be aware of how common macerated skin is and take steps to better understand what it takes to treat and prevent this skin condition.

What Is Macerated Skin?

Macerated skin is a condition that occurs when the skin has been exposed to moisture for an extended period of time. It often appears pale and soft, with areas of discoloration and cracking. The skin may also appear wrinkled or swollen. This condition can occur on any area of the body, but is more common in areas prone to trapping moisture such as underneath breasts, belly folds, groin area, and between toes. Macerated skin can be itchy and uncomfortable, and can leave the affected area more vulnerable to infection. It's important to keep the afflicted area dry and reduce friction with clothing or jewelry in order to prevent further damage. Treatments usually involve applying ointment or other topical medications prescribed by a doctor.

How Does Skin Maceration Happen?

Skin maceration can occur when water and or other moisture is absorbed by the skin for a long period of time and does not have the opportunity to dry. The skin becomes wrinkled and soft due to the maximum absorption of the moisture.

Common Causes & Risks

Common causes of macerated skin are

  • Excessive perspiration
  • Tight clothing
  • , and
  • Contact with liquids such as sweat or rainwater

Additionally, individuals who are elderly, have diabetes or other conditions which can cause an increased risk of developing macerated skin should exercise caution. Macerated skin is also a common side effect of certain medications. Other risk factors include living in a humid environment, being overweight, and having poor circulation. Taking steps to avoid these factors and keep the skin dry can help prevent macerated skin from occurring.

How long does it take macerated skin to heal

Mild macerated skin can go away on its own rather quickly once the exposure to moisture is removed so the skin is able to dry. However, in cases where the skin is exposed for a prolonged amount of time, such as people with incontinence or hyperhidrosis, sores and wounds can occur making it a longer process to tend to and heal.

What are the possible effects of maceration?

Skin maceration can have a minor to a more severe impact on the skin depending on the state of your condition. Mild skin maceration can cause soft, wet skin that appears wrinkled while more severe skin maceration can cause periwound skin and or infections in the skin. If infection occurs, it can turn into another condition all together so it is important to speak to a medical professional if you have concerns about your condition.

How to treat maceration

Macerated skin can be treated in numerous ways depending on the state of your condition. Treatment for mild maceration includes exposing the affected area to air to dry out the skin. Treatments for more serious maceration with periwound skin include occlusive dressings and Hydrofiber dressings. Occlusive dressings can be understood as medical dressings that are extremely absorbent and wax coated so moisture can be removed from the affected area. Hydrofiber dressings can be understood as gauze pads that often include iodine to absorb moisture.

Treatments for macerated skin can also involve applying ointment or other topical medications prescribed by a doctor. Other treatments include keeping the afflicted area dry to prevent further buildup of moisture, using absorbent powders, reducing friction with clothing and jewelry, and using an antibacterial wash on the affected area twice daily. Proper hygiene is also important in treating macerated skin as bacteria can worsen the condition. In more severe cases, more drastic measures may be necessary such as laser treatment or dermabrasion to remove excess and damaged layers of skin.

How to prevent skin maceration

Prevention for maceration includes limiting your exposure to moisture on the skin and ensuring that you give your skin the proper drying time it needs to recoup. Further, change dressings, adult undergarments, diapers and other items that retain moisture on the skin often so that the skin has dry time. Further, there are preventative topical medications that can be applied to the areas of the skin that are at risk for maceration.

Macerated skin is a common condition that can often be reversed on its own with exposure to dry air. However, there are more severe cases of maceration that can cause periwound skin and other infections in the skin if not properly treated. Treatments for more severe cases of macerated skin include dressings for the periwound skin. Prevention for maceration includes dry time for the skin as well as topical medications that aid in keeping the skin dry. Be sure to speak to a medical professional if you have concerns about your skin.

Is Treatment for Skin Maceration Covered by Insurance?

Treatment for skin maceration is typically covered by health insurance providers, depending on the individual policy. Skin maceration can have a variety of causes, so it is important to speak with your healthcare provider and insurance company to understand what treatments and services are available. Generally, doctors visits and prescribed ointments or dressings will be covered by most insurers. In some cases, additional treatments such as laser therapy may also be covered, although this will depend upon the specific insurer and policy. Understanding your coverage and speaking with professionals can ensure that you receive the care you need for any case of skin maceration. Talk to a licensed insurance agent to compare quotes today.

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