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Jock Itch

(Tinea Cruris)

Definition

Jock itch is a fungal infection of the skin on the groin and inner area of the thighs. The medical name for jock itch is tinea cruris.

Causes    TOP

Common fungus organisms that grow best in warm, moist areas cause jock itch. Fungus can be transmitted from one person to another by:

  • Direct contact between people
  • Indirect contact, such as sharing towels that are infected with the fungus

Risk Factors    TOP

Hot, humid conditions can increase your risk of jock itch. Other factors may include:

  • Perspiring heavily
  • Obesity
  • Wearing tight clothing
  • Wearing dirty clothing, especially underwear or athletic supporters
  • Infrequently changing underwear
  • Infrequent showering
  • Sharing towels or clothing with other people
  • Using public showers or locker rooms
  • Contact sports such as wrestling
  • Having an immune system disorder

Both men and women can be affected. The condition is more common in men, especially those who perspire heavily.

Symptoms    TOP

Jock itch causes a chafed, itchy, and sometimes painful rash around the groin and upper, inner thigh. The area near the anus may also be affected. The rash is:

  • Usually red, tan, or brown
  • Usually defined clearly at the edges
  • Often slightly scaly
  • May be swollen or have blisters

Diagnosis    TOP

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Jock itch can usually be diagnosed based on the appearance and location of the rash.

Treatment    TOP

Over-the-counter antifungal creams can usually treat jock itch. Creams or lotions work better on jock itch than sprays. In severe or persistent cases, your doctor may prescribe stronger creams or oral medication. Use your prescription for the entire time that your doctor recommends. This will help prevent the rash from returning. If your rash does not go away within a month of treatment, call your doctor.

Creams

Antifungal creams can effectively treat jock itch. Some medications may work faster, but are often more expensive. Creams are usually used for 2-4 weeks.

Note: Do not use antifungal creams recommended for athlete's foot. These may be too harsh for the groin.

Oral Medications

If the rash doesn't improve with the cream, an oral medication may be needed.

Call the doctor if the rash begins to ooze. The rash may also be infected with bacteria. If this occurs, you may be given an antibiotic.

Lifestyle Changes    TOP

These steps can also help to treat jock itch:

  • Dry the infected area before dressing.
  • Avoid sharing clothing and towels with others.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes that are made out of cotton. Another option is to wear clothes that are designed to wick moisture away from your skin.

Prevention    TOP

To help reduce your chance of jock itch:

  • Shower regularly.
  • Always shower soon after exercising or perspiring heavily.
  • After showering, dry the groin area thoroughly.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing.
  • Wear cotton underwear and breathable clothing.
  • Avoid wearing clothing that chafes your groin.
  • Always wash your clothes, especially underwear and athletic supporters.
  • Do not share towels or clothing with others.
  • Do not wear wet swimsuits for a long period of time.
  • Do not store damp clothing in your locker or gym bag.
  • Avoid contact with persons with the infection.

Jock itch may result from an athlete’s foot or a toenail infection. To prevent it from spreading to the groin area:

  • Treat the foot or toenail infection with proper medications (talk to your doctor first)
  • Use a separate towel to dry your feet
  • Put your socks on or cover your feet before putting on underwear or pants
  • Avoid touching your feet, then your groin, when washing or getting dressed
  • Wash your hands after touching your feet and/or groin

RESOURCES:

American Academy of Dermatology
http://www.aad.org
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
http://www.familydoctor.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Dermatology Association
http://www.dermatology.ca

References:

Tinea cruris. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114330/Tinea-cruris. Updated March 23, 2015. Accessed September 28, 2016.
Tinea infections. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated April 2014. Accessed January 12, 2015.
Last reviewed March 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board David L Horn, MD
Last Updated: 1/13/2014

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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

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