jock itch
Although jock itch is a curable condition, it does not go away on its own and can lead to complications if left untreated.

No, jock itch does not go away on its own but can be cured with proper medications.

Jock itch, medically called tinea cruris, is a fungal infection of the skin around the groin region. It is another form of ringworm. It generally affects the younger population and athletes.

Jock itch is a curable condition, which if left untreated, can affect a person for a long time. Recurrences are seen very often if proper prevention and treatment are not taken.

Jock itch is not life-threatening; however, complications, such as skin thickening (lichenification), bacterial infection, and blisters can occur if left untreated for too long.

4 symptoms of jock itch

Here are four symptoms of jock itch:

  1. Itch. It begins with mild intermittent itching involving the skin of the groin, inner thighs, and butt crack. The itching can worsen in some cases and become unbearable and embarrassing. The skin may appear irritated, scaly, or flaky.
  2. Rash. It usually appears on both sides of the groin, thigh skin folds, and in all itchy areas. The rash can be dry, rough, and elevated and can later develop pus blisters. In severe cases, the blisters ooze out and show pin-point bleeding. The rash changes color with central clearing and redness spreads outward to the thighs. The itching and rash can spread to the genitals, including the scrotum, penis, labia, vagina, and anus.
  3. Vaginal discharge. Women may experience white discharge through vagina and yeast infections.
  4. Complications. Severe cases may develop secondary complications, such as ulcers, infected sores, and, rarely, cellulitis.

What causes jock itch?

The cause of jock itch is a group of fungi called dermatophytes. These fungi normally reside on the skin and generally do not cause disease.

These fungi multiply easily over an extended period of warm and moist conditions. Certain conditions lower immunity that may raise the risk of getting jock itch.

The skin around the groin region gets sweaty and warm frequently, especially after exercise, and acts as a fertile ground for the overgrowth of dermatophytes in the area.

Who is more likely to develop jock itch?

Adolescent and young adult men are most prone to getting jock itch very often. However, all age groups can be affected by it, although it is rare in children. It is three times more prevalent in men than in women.

The risk to develop jock itch is higher if one has:

  • Obesity. High body fat in the skin around the groin has an increased risk of jock itch because of their moisture-trapping skinfolds.
  • Diabetes. People with diabetes have increased risk in two ways, their sweat emits excess sugar that provides food for the fungus and a weak immune system makes them prone to common skin infections.
  • A weakened immune system. Compromised immune systems in people with human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, chronic illnesses, or cancer are more likely to develop jock itch.
  • Medications. Immune-suppressing drugs, such as steroids, and immune-modulating drugs, such as infliximab, increase the risk of people.

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How is jock itch diagnosed?

A healthcare provider can diagnose jock itch by inspecting the skin around the groin area and assessing the symptoms.

Sometimes, when the skin rash needs to be differentiated from other similar-looking skin diseases (such as contact dermatitis, diaper rash, impetigo, familial pemphigus), the healthcare provider may need to scrape or remove a small piece of skin (biopsy) to test it in a lab. Drops of a potassium hydroxide (KOH) solution are used to dissolve the skin cells so that only fungal cells are visible.

What is the mode of spread of jock itch?

Skin-to-skin contact or contact with an infected surface is the most common way jock itch spreads. Sexual contact with an infected person is another very common mode of spread. Sharing towels or clothing with an infected person paves the way for transmission of the infection.

Sometimes, ringworm (tenia) in another area of the body can lead to jock itch if the person touches the groin area after touching the infected part. Then phenomenon is called autoinfection. For instance, autoinfection may happen when the itch spreads from the feet of a person with an athlete’s foot to the groin if it is touched without washing hands or through the clothing that touches the infected part and then the groin.

What are the signs of jock itch healing?

To know if the treatment is working, certain signs indicate the jock itch is going away, such as:

  • Fading rash or redness
  • The reappearance of normal skin color
  • Relief from symptoms of itchiness or irritation begins

Can jock itch last for years?

Early diagnosis and a correct complete treatment course should relieve a person with jock itch in about a month.

Although jock itch usually does not go away on its own, it can be easily detected and cured. Response to the treatment is prompt and satisfactory. It is often a milder form of tenia, such as athlete's foot, but is generally a long-lasting disease.

How can I prevent jock itch?

If a person has athlete’s foot or another type of tenia, they can prevent getting jock itch by:

  • Treating the infected area with antifungal medications
  • Using a separate towel to dry the infected areas
  • Avoiding scratching the infected areas and washing hands if scratching is unavoidable
  • Washing socks, underwear, and towels in hot water
  • Putting on socks before wearing underwear while dressing
  • Refraining sexual contact with anyone who has an active jock itch

When should I see my healthcare provider?

See a healthcare provider if jock itch:

  • Does not improve with treatment
  • Looks infected and filled with pus
  • Has spread to other areas of the body.

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4 home remedies for jock itch

Home remedies may not be as effective or safe as medications prescribed by the doctor. Hence, consult the doctor before trying them.

Nonetheless, here are four home remedies for jock itch:

  1. Rubbing alcohol may help prevent or treat jock itch though it makes skin dry and itchy.
  2. Essential oils, such as tea tree, bitter orange, peppermint, and eucalyptus oils. However, they only partially cure fungal infections.
  3. Ajoene present in garlic can prevent or stop the growth of bacteria. Like essential oils, it only partially cures fungal infections.
  4. Do not use essential oils or garlic to treat jock itch if allergic to them.

How is jock itch treated?

Over-the-counter or prescription antifungal creams, ointments, lotions, or powders can treat jock itch effectively. These preparations caontain clotrimazolemiconazole, or terbinafine.

Some prescription antifungal medications are pills. These pills contain fluconazoleitraconazole, terbinafine, or tolnaftate.

Completing the full course of medicine is essential for a complete cure. Recurrence rates are very high when the treatment course is incomplete.

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Medically Reviewed on 2/28/2022
References
Image Source: iStock Images

Wiederkehr M. Tinea Cruris. Medscape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1091806-overview

Cleveland Clinic. Jock Itch (Tinea Cruris). https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22141-jock-itch-tinea-cruris