Jock Itch

  • Medical Author:
    Gary W. Cole, MD, FAAD

    Dr. Cole is board certified in dermatology. He obtained his BA degree in bacteriology, his MA degree in microbiology, and his MD at the University of California, Los Angeles. He trained in dermatology at the University of Oregon, where he completed his residency.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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How is jock itch diagnosed?

The diagnosis of jock itch is usually based on the symptoms and skin appearance.

Occasionally, a small skin biopsy may be used to help the doctor confirm the diagnosis. Rarely, a skin biopsy (surgically taking a small piece of skin using local numbing medicine) that is examined under a microscope may be necessary in atypical or widespread cases. Sometimes skin biopsies help to exclude other possible diagnoses. A skin swab or culture may be taken and sent to the lab to detect an infectious cause of the jock itch. Imaging studies like X-rays or CT scans are not useful. A bacterial culture may be useful to check for bacteria like Staphylococcus on the skin. An examination with a special ultraviolet light, a Wood's light, and a microscopic examination of skin scrapings using potassium hydroxide may help to identify a fungal cause of jock itch.

Which physicians diagnose and treat jock itch?

Most primary-care physicians can accurately diagnose and treat jock itch. Occasionally, stubborn cases which may masquerade as jock itch. A few other medical conditions may look just like jock itch and should be examined more closely by a dermatologist.

Other medical conditions can mimic jock itch. Some possible mimics include

Jock itch may be associated with athlete's foot, also called tinea pedis. The same fungus that causes athlete's foot in a person may actually spread to the groin in some cases. It is important to always check the feet for rashes in people with jock itch. Spread of the fungus usually occurs when fungal particles pass onto the crotch of the pants while actually getting dressed. Any foot infection must be treated in order to avoid recurrence of the jock itch.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/15/2016

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