What Is jock itch?

Jock itch (tinea cruris) is a common rash that primarily surfaces in the groin area due to a buildup of heat and moisture. The fastest way to cure it is to wash and keep the area clean and dry. Topical treatments and medications can also help speed healing.
Jock itch (tinea cruris) is a common rash that primarily surfaces in the groin area due to a buildup of heat and moisture. The fastest way to cure it is to wash and keep the area clean and dry. Topical treatments and medications can also help speed healing.

Tinea cruris, usually referred to as jock itch, is a very common condition that is uncomfortable. The condition itself is not severe, but it can worsen quickly causing discomfort and even infection, so it requires swift treatment. 

Jock itch is a term used to describe a rash that primarily surfaces in the groin area due to a buildup of heat and moisture. Its scientific name is tinea cruris, which means leg fungus. It is not a worm, but it is a form of ringworm. These types of fungus are called ringworm due to the ring shaped patterns that rashes tend to form on your skin. 

You can develop jock itch if you wear a lot of tight garments. These tend to trap moisture and heat, creating an environment in which fungi multiply and flourish. Athletes often get jock itch. It occurs more commonly in men but can affect women as well.

The jock itch fungus may cause a rash on your upper and inner thighs, armpits, and/or the area just underneath your breasts or pectoral muscles. Many people with tinea cruris also have athlete’s foot. Athlete’s foot is called tinea pedis.

Main symptoms of jock itch

Jock itch may begin as a skin irritation. You may feel pain or a sting. The tinea cruris fungus usually causes your skin to become inflamed and flake, crack, or peel. It can spread along your thighs, groin, buttocks, and genital areas. As the name suggests, jock itch can cause severe itching sensations.

What causes jock itch?

Our environment constantly exposes us to fungi and other microbes. Tight clothes like underwear and shorts can trap moisture in your groin area. This provides the perfect breeding ground for these otherwise harmless microbes to multiply rapidly. 

The fungus associated with jock itch can develop anywhere on your body. Other common areas include your armpits, under your breasts or pectorals, and on your feet. Moisture and heat are easily trapped in these areas by tight clothing.

Who can get jock itch?

Jock itch is more common among men than women, but anyone can get it. Are you an athlete? If so, this makes you particularly susceptible to the condition. Athletes typically sweat regularly and stay active for long periods of time while wearing the same garments.

Diagnosis for jock itch

Your doctor will ask you questions about the onset of the rash. They will examine the affected area to determine the severity of your case. Your doctor may also ask to scrape or biopsy a skin sample from the affected area to send to a lab for further testing.

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Treatments for jock itch

The fastest way to cure your jock itch is to treat the fungal infection itself while also taking steps to prevent the spread. 

Wash

Keeping the area clean will not help cure the rash. Good hygiene will, however, prevent infection and help you control the spread of the fungus. Use soap and water to gently clean the area. Paying careful attention to not break the skin open.

Keep dry

Since jock itch fungus thrives in a moist environment, keeping your skin dry will encourage healing. You should avoid activities that make you sweat until your rash has cleared up. Avoid tight or restrictive garments. Change your clothes regularly to keep the area clean and dry.

Topical treatments

Over-the-counter creams and powders are sufficient to treat many cases of jock itch. Antifungal treatments include terbinafine, miconazole, or clotrimazole. You may have to try each one to find a solution that works best for you. 

Read the label and follow the usage directions. Do not discontinue use sooner than directed, even if it appears that your rash is gone.

Medication

If your symptoms do not improve within two weeks, call your doctor. Your condition may require a stronger dosage of the medications found in antifungal creams or an oral medication.

Possible complications and side effects for jock itch

Jock itch spreads easily. It is important not to share towels or garments with other people so that you don’t give it to others or vice versa. Wear sandals if you are in a public shower and use fresh towels following each shower or bath. Applying powder to the affected areas regularly will help to prevent a future case of jock itch.

All medications have the potential for side effects, so if you have concerns, talk to your doctor about what to expect. In the rare case of an allergic reaction, stop the use of your current treatment and seek medical attention.

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Medically Reviewed on 1/28/2021
References
American Family Physician: "Topical Treatment of Common Superficial Tinea Infections."

Family Doctor: "Jock Itch."

Harvard Medical School: "Jock Itch (Tinea Cruris)."

Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital: "Tinea (Ringworm, Jock Itch, Athlete's Foot)."

Kids Health: "Jock Itch."

University of Michigan Health: "Jock Itch."