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Jock Itch

Facts on Jock Itch

Jock itch is the popular name given to an itchy rash in the groin that commonly involves the inner thighs and adjacent skin, including the scrotum in males. The medical name for rash in the creases of overlapping skin is "intertrigo." Jock itch is associated with sweating, friction/abrasion, occlusive clothing, and the direct rubbing of skin on skin. The rash may affect not only the groin, but it can involve any areas of skin that overlap, including around the anus and in the skin folds of obese individuals. Jock itch affects men and occasionally women worldwide.

Major risk factors include the following:

  • Heat
  • Humidity
  • Tight clothing
  • Damp skin folds that may occur with obesity or excessive sweating

Although several microorganisms have been identified as causing the rash, many cases are noninfectious and are induced by environmental and physical factors that irritate the skin. Other skin diseases may mimic jock itch. They include

What Causes Jock Itch?

Although the term jock itch implies some sort of relationship with athletics, this is not necessarily true. Jock itch is particularly related to infections from microorganisms and environmental factors such as humidity and friction, which can irritate the skin. Jock itch is more common in men than in women simply because the presence of male genitalia leads to increased friction and humidity. Women are actually predisposed to develop a similar condition underneath their breasts. Jock itch is most often caused simply by noninfected skin affected by friction, humidity, and heat. However, it is not uncommon for microorganisms like fungi and bacteria to simultaneously infect the skin.

  • People taking broad-spectrum antibiotics, those with weakened immune systems, or those who have diabetes are at risk to develop the rash.
  • Occasionally, bacteria can cause jock itch. Bacterial jock itch can be easily diagnosed because the affected skin glows a coral red color when illuminated by a black light.
  • Wearing tight clothes or athletic supporters can predispose one to infection or aggravate the problem further. Jock itch can be prevented by applying large amounts of lubricant, like petroleum jelly, to areas likely to be affected.
  • Intimate contact or contact with objects that harbor fungus can contaminate the groin skin. The fungus is spread by contact with the spores, which may survive on dead skin cells or objects for a long time.
  • If you have fungal infection, such as athlete's foot, the same organism may cause a rash in your groin.
    • Infections caused by Candida albicans (a yeast) can produce pustules and involve the tip of the uncircumcised penis. This infection is seen more often in people with diabetes.
    • Fungal molds like the Epidermophyton floccosum and Trichophytin species are occasionally responsible for the epidemic infections in dormitories, barracks, and similar situations in which people live close together and in which towels, sheets, blankets, and other items may harbor a fungus for years.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/19/2016
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