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 do health care professionals diagnose jock itch?

The diagnosis of jock itch is usually based on the symptoms and skin appearance. A microscopic examination of skin scrapings covered in a drop of potassium hydroxide will confirm a fungal cause of jock itch. Occasionally, a fungal culture of the skin scrapings may be necessary. Certain bacteria can produce an eruption in the groin indistinguishable from a fungal infection. An examination with a special ultraviolet light, a Wood's light, will enable identification.

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. A bacterial culture may be useful to detect bacteria, such as Staphylococcus.

Is jock itch curable? Is jock itch contagious?

Most cases of jock itch are easily and fully curable. There are very uncommon, long-standing cases of jock itch that may not be cured. Often these more resistant cases may be controlled with proper treatment and medication. Jock itch sometimes clears completely by itself without treatment.

Although most cases of jock itch are not contagious, cases caused by an infection may be transmitted through skin or sexual contact, sharing of swimwear, or towels. It is possible to transmit fungal jock itch to someone else through close skin contact.

Some people are simply more prone to developing jock itch because of their overall health, activity, anatomy, possible altered immune status, exposure history, and other predisposing skin conditions like eczema. People with athlete's foot (tinea pedis) are more prone to developing jock itch.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/6/2017

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