Jock itch

Also called tinea cruris

Jock itch is a skin infection caused by a fungus. It usually affects the inner thighs, groin, genitals and lower buttocks. Treatments can stop the fungus from spreading and clear it up.

On this page, you can find the following information:

What is jock itch?

Jock itch is a skin fungal infection causing a red rash that is often itchy and painful. It can affect the inner thighs, groin, genitals and buttocks. Jock itch mainly affects young adult men, though women can also get it.

Jock itch is caused by a fungus, the same fungus that causes ringworm. Read more about ringworm.

Fungi love humid, damp conditions and thrive in areas where the skin folds and is in contact with other skin. 
You might get jock itch if you:

  • Wear tight clothes that irritate your skin.
  • Have moisture in your groin area from sweating.
  • Wear a wet bathing suit for a long time.
  • Share damp towels or sweaty clothing with other people.
  • Have close contact with someone who has jock itch.
  • Are overweight.
  • Have a weakened immune system or diabetes.

What are the symptoms of jock itch?

The main symptoms are itching and burning, mainly in the groin or inner thigh area. Your skin may appear irritated and change colour. It can also appear scaly or flaky. The rash may look like a ring, and the outside of the rash may have small bumps or blisters. The rash can be symmetrical on both sides of the groin fold. 

Image: DermNet NZ

How is jock itch treated?

The treatment of jock itch involves eliminating the fungus, mainly with the use of antifungal creams and good hygiene. If you don’t treat jock itch, it can last months.

Antifungal creams

Antifungal creams can be bought over the counter from your pharmacy. Examples include clotrimazole and miconazole.

The cream should be applied to the infected area but also to the normal skin 4–6 cm around the rash. Read the enclosed instructions carefully. Ensure you continue treatment for 2 weeks after the symptoms have cleared. If the treatment hasn’t worked, see your doctor. You may need antifungal tablets which are only available on prescription.

Good hygiene 

Good hygiene habits can help clear up jock itch and stop you from getting it again. 

  • Keep your groin dry, clean and cool.
  • Pat your groin area dry with a clean towel. You can use a powder to absorb moisture around your groin, particularly after bathing or working out.
  • Change your underwear every day, or more often if you sweat a lot. 
  • Avoid wearing tight underwear or pants. They can rub and chafe your skin and make you more likely to get jock itch. Consider switching to boxers if you wear briefs.
  • Avoid scratching your groin. Scratching your groin may cause the fungus to spread to other parts of your body. Other fungal infections, like athlete’s foot (tinea pedis), can also spread to your groin and cause jock itch. Use a separate towel to dry your feet, or dry your groin before your feet.
  • Don’t let others use your towels or other personal items.

References

  1. Tinea cruris DermNet NZ
Credits: Health Navigator Pharmacists.