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.
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
Hot, humid conditions can increase your risk of jock itch. Other factors that may increase the chances of jock itch:
- Perspiring heavily
- 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, but the condition is more common in men.
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
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.
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.
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.
If the rash does not 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.
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.
To help reduce the chances 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.
American Academy of Dermatology
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Canadian Dermatology Association
Jock itch. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/condition/jock-itch. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Tinea cruris. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114330/Tinea-cruris. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board David L. Horn, MD, FACP Last Updated: 1/29/2021