Jock itch, also known as tinea cruris, is an infection caused by a common fungus. Since the areas it affects usually stay dark and moist, it is a welcoming habitat for fungus. This condition usually affects the skin on the genitals, buttocks, and inner thighs.
The condition is named for the group of the population that suffers from it most frequently. Jocks sweat a lot, and so do athletes. However, the condition does occur frequently in people who are overweight or exercise frequently.
Even though the condition is uncomfortable and irritating, it is usually not serious. However, those who suffer from it are in a hurry to find relief from the symptoms.
Jock itch begins with an area of the skin that is red in color. Usually this starts out in the crease of the groin and develops outward into a half-moon shape on the upper thigh. The edge of the rash starting in the groin is usually made up of a consistent line of small raised blisters.
While it may start out as a red discoloration that mimics chaffing, the rash will begin to itch or burn over time. The skin can also become flaky, or even scaly after being exposed to rubbing clothing over time.
While having jock itch may be concerning, medical treatment is usually not required if it responds to over-the-counter medications. It is recommended that you see your doctor if your condition does not respond to over-the-counter treatments after two weeks.
Jock itch is caused by an infection of a type of fungus which also causes ringworm. Although ringworm can affect almost every part of the body, when it affects the groin area only it is known as jock itch.
The fungus that causes jock itch tends to thrive in warm, moist environments. This is why the condition is common among athletes, because the groin area can easily become moist with sweat while exercising. Furthermore, athletes will often spend time in locker rooms and communal showers where moist floors and humidity allow the fungus to thrive and make it easy to contract.
Often, jock itch travels from a fungal infection of the feet (athlete’s foot) which passes up the groin via the waistband of pants which might rub on the feet as they are being pulled on. It can also pass directly from one person to another via skin contact, or from sharing clothes or towels which are contaminated with the fungus.
A mild case of jock itch usually responds well to over-the-counter anti-fungal creams, ointments, lotions, powders, or spray. Usually, once you begin using these regularly, the rash will clear up in one to two weeks.
For those who are suffering from athletes foot, as well as jock itch, treating them both at the same time will reduce the chance of recurrence in both cases.
To minimize the risk of developing jock itch, try to keep the groin area as dry as possible. Shower as soon as possible after exercising and then use a clean towel to thoroughly dry off the groin. Using talcum powder will help to absorb any lasting moisture.
Wash workout gear after every use to minimize the risk of contamination. Do not share personal items like clothes or towels with other people without washing them first.
Try to find clothes that provide a comfortable fit without being too tight. Tight-fitting underwear or clothes can chafe the skin, cause excess sweat and increase the risk of jock itch.
Finally, those who contract athletes foot should seek treatment urgently to avoid the infection spreading to the groin. To avoid athletes foot, keep feet as dry as possible and avoid using communal locker rooms or showers with bare feet – wear sandals instead.