About Jock Itch

What is jock itch?

Tinea cruris, most commonly known as jock itch, is a fungal infection of the skin. It belongs to a group of fungal skin infections called tinea. Like other tinea infections, jock itch is caused by mold-like fungi, which are known as dermatophytes. These microscopic fungi naturally live on the skin as well as on the hair and nails. They’re typically harmless, but they can multiply quickly and cause infections when they’re allowed to thrive in warm, moist areas. This is why jock itch usually develops in the skin around the groin, inner thighs, and buttocks.

Jock itch is most common in men and adolescent boys. The infection causes a rash that often itches or burns. The affected areas can also be red, flaky, or scaly.

Though jock itch can be bothersome, it’s typically a mild infection. Treating it quickly will minimize symptoms and keep the infection from spreading. Most people find relief simply by applying topical antifungal medications and by keeping the affected area clean and dry.

What are the symptoms of jock itch?

  • redness in the affected area
  • persistent itching in the affected area
  • burning sensation in the affected area
  • flaking, peeling, or cracking skin in the affected area
  • a rash that gets worse with exercise or activity
  • changes in skin color
  • a rash that doesn’t improve or even worsens or spreads with over-the-counter hydrocortisone (anti-itch) cream

Jock itch typically affects the groin and inner thighs. It may spread to the abdomen and buttocks, but the scrotum usually isn’t affected.

What causes jock itch?

Jock itch is caused by a group of fungi called dermatophytes. These fungi naturally live on your skin and normally don’t cause problems. However, when you remain in sweat-soaked clothes after exercising, the lengthy exposure to moisture can allow the fungi to multiply quickly. When you have an overgrowth of dermatophytes in your groin area, it causes the infection known as jock itch.

The fungus that causes jock itch is highly contagious. You may get the fungal infection through close personal contact with an infected person or through contact with the unwashed clothing of an infected person.

The term "jock itch" may give the impression that only athletes develop the infection, but it can occur in anyone. Those who are overweight are more likely to experience jock itch because the fungus can thrive in folds of skin, which are prone to sweating. As a preventive measure, it’s important to wash with soap and water in your groin and armpit areas daily. Jock itch may also be triggered by prolonged exposure to moisture and friction from clothes.

How is jock itch diagnosed?

Your doctor will likely be able to diagnose jock itch simply by performing a physical exam and inspecting the affected area of skin. In some cases, your doctor may take some scrapings of skin cells from the area to help diagnose the condition.

How is jock itch treated?

In most cases, jock itch can be treated at home effectively. You can try the following remedies to get rid of the infection:

  • Apply an over-the-counter or online antifungal cream, powder, or spray to the affected area such as SimpleFree
  • Wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and warm water.
  • Dry the affected area thoroughly after bathing and exercise.
  • Change clothes and undergarments every day.
  • Wear loose cotton clothing.
  • Treat any other fungal infections quickly so they do not spread.

How common is it?

More than 50% of sexually active people will get HPV at some point in their lives. An estimated 6 million new cases occur each year, with at least 20 million people already infected.