Many men (and some women) will suffer the pain and inconvenience of jock itch at some time during their lives. The good news is that jock itch can be treated, usually inexpensively, and at home. Once you treat it, you can take some basic preventive measures to keep it from coming back.
Jock itch is caused by a fungal infection. Warm, moist areas are the best environments for fungi to grow. Heat and humidity increase your risk of developing jock itch. You may be at a higher risk of if you wear wet, damp, or tight clothing, such as a jockstrap or swimsuit, or if you are overweight or obese. You can also get jock itch from sharing towels or clothing that are infected with the fungus.
Jock itch results in red, scaly patches that burn or itch. The patches generally cover the inner thighs and skin around the groin area, but almost never involves the scrotum or penis.
First, take a close look at the rash area. Jock itch is characterized by red skin and a discernible border between the part of your thigh that is affected and the part that is not.
Other skin conditions can look and feel like jock itch. One is called intertrigo, a skin irritation caused when the body folds rub against each other. It becomes worse when you are hot and sweaty. Symptoms include redness and peeling. Another condition is a form of seborrhea that is related to dandruff and is marked by dry, cracking skin. Erythrasma (a bacteria infection) and psoriasis are other common conditions that may mimic jock itch.
If you notice something reddening your groin, do not wait for it to get worse. It is much easier to treat in the early stages. Most forms of jock itch respond to over-the-counter products containing various anti-fungal formulas. Medications come in lotions, sprays, powders, and creams.
Be sure to carefully follow the directions for using any medication. The fungus can return if it is not properly treated. Buy a product that is specifically made to treat jock itch. Medication for athlete's foot, another fungal infection, may be too harsh.
Take some time to check your feet and the spaces between your toes for signs athlete's foot. It is possible to carry fungus from your bare feet to your groin when you put on your underwear or pants.
There are steps you can take to prevent jock itch from coming back, or spreading it to other people. These include:
Jock itch may result from an athlete’s foot or toenail infection. To prevent it from spreading to the groin area:
If none of the above is working, see your doctor. The good news is that doctors can treat even the most chronic cases. Treatment may involve prescription medication that sometimes includes oral antifungals.
American Academy of Dermatology.
Family Doctor.org—American Academy of Family Physicians
Canadian Dermatology Association
Jock itch. Nemours Kids Health website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/teen/diseases_conditions/skin/jock_itch.html. Updated October 2011. Accessed March 25, 2014.
Tinea cruris. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated March 30, 2013. Accessed March 25, 2014.
Tinea infections: athlete's foot, jock itch, and ringworm. Am Fam Physician. 1998;58(1):177-178. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/1998/0701/p177.html. Accessed March 25, 2014.
Last reviewed April 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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