Jock itch is a fungal skin infection, known as tinea cruris. It mainly affects adult men, though women can also develop it. The fungi that causes it is commonly found on the skin and nails and is very similar to the fungus that causes athlete’s foot. Jock itch got its name because it tends to develop in active, sportsmen and those that wear protective gear to protect their genitals during exercise. However, any tight-fitting clothes can increase the chances of jock itch developing.

What are the symptoms?

Jock itch usually starts with a red rash that’s painful or itchy, usually with raised, scaly edges and can affect the inner thighs, groin, genitals and lower buttocks. Fungi love humid, damp conditions and thrive in areas where the skin folds into contact with other skin.  This fungus is commonly present in gyms and locker rooms as they’re steamy and damp towels and clothes are left around.

You are more likely to get jock itch if you:

  • Frequently wear tight fitting clothes.
  • Play sports and use a genital sports guard.
  • Are overweight with folds of touching skin.
  • Share towels, floors etc with a person who has a fungal infection.
  • Have type 1 Diabetes
  • Have a low immunity
  • Have athlete’s foot.

What are the treatments?

The best way to prevent jock itch is not to provide the fungus with an environment that it can thrive in in the first place. This is most easily done by practicing good personal hygiene:

  • Wash the groin area daily, and make sure to dry it thoroughly with a clean towel, particularly in the folds of skin
  • Thoroughly dry the groin area after exercising
  • Apply a talc powder to the groin area to prevent excess moisture
  • Wear clean clothes and change underwear daily, or more frequently if lots of sweating has happened
  • Don’t wear tight clothing that rubs or chafes the skin
  • Wear clothing made of cotton or other natural fibres
  • Wear loser boxer type shorts rather than tight fitting briefs
  • Don’t share personal items including towels, clothing and bedding.
  • Wash workout clothes at a suitably high temperature after each use
  • Wash towels and bed linen frequently
  • Treat athlete’s foot infections to stop them spreading to the groin

If infection is still present, treatment essentially involves eliminating the fungi and in most cases, it can be treated effectively with over the counter anti-fungal sprays and creams. The most effective are those that contain clotrimazole. The treatment should be applied to the infected area but also to the normal skin 4-6cm around the rash and treatment should be continued for 2 weeks after the symptoms have cleared.

If the treatment hasn’t worked then it’s probably best to see a doctor as anti-fungal tablets can be prescribed for stubborn infections. If it still persists, a swab might be taken so the exact fungus that is causing the infection can be identified.

What are the long-term effects?

Most people can usually treat the condition before it spreads and complications are rare. In severe cases, damaged skin can become infected by bacteria leading to cellulitis, an infection of the deep layers of skin. This makes the skin very hot to the touch, shiny and red. Flu like symptoms can also accompany this. If cellulitis is suspected, then medical help should be sought straight away as antibiotics will most likely be needed.

Have you ever experienced jock itch? How did you deal with it? Join or start the conversation below.