Is Jock Itch (Tinea Cruris) Contagious?

Reviewed on 12/15/2020

What Is Jock Itch (Tinea Cruris)?

Jock itch (tinea cruris) is an extremely contagious fungal infection. It is spread from person to person by direct skin contact or by touching clothing, bedding, towels, gym showers or objects that have come into contact with an infected person's skin.
Jock itch (tinea cruris) is an extremely contagious fungal infection. It is spread from person to person by direct skin contact or by touching clothing, bedding, towels, gym showers or objects that have come into contact with an infected person’s skin.

Jock itch (tinea cruris) is a form of ringworm, a skin infection caused by dermatophytes, a type of fungus that lives on the dead outer layer of skin. It’s called “ringworm” because it can cause a circular rash shaped like a ring. There is no worm involved in the condition.

What Are Symptoms of Jock Itch (Tinea Cruris)?

Symptoms of jock itch (tinea cruris) occur between 4 to 14 days after coming into contact with the fungi that cause ringworm.

Jock itch usually occurs on the inner sides of the skin folds of the thigh, in the crease where the leg meets the trunk, and can spread onto the thighs and toward the buttocks or anus. 

Symptoms of jock itch include:

  • Ring-shaped rash
  • Itching
  • Skin redness
  • Scaly, cracked skin

What Causes Jock Itch (Tinea Cruris)?

Jock itch (tinea cruris) is a skin infection caused by a form of ringworm, which is a type of fungus that lives on the dead outer layer of skin. The most common source of the ringworm infection is a person's own tinea pedis (athlete's foot).

Jock itch occurs more frequently in men than in women, and often during warm or hot weather or after a period of heavy sweating.

Risk factors for developing ringworm include:

  • A weakened immune system (such as from HIV/AIDS, cancer, chemotherapy, diabetes, or use of certain medications)
  • Use of public locker rooms or showers
  • Participation in contact sports
  • Close contact with an infected person 
  • Excessive sweating in tight clothing
  • Close contact with affected animals including household pets
  • Working with soil that has ringworm fungus
  • Living in a warm and humid climate
  • Sharing personal items such as bedding, towels, or clothing with an infected person 

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Is Jock Itch (Tinea Cruris) Contagious?

Jock itch (tinea cruris) is extremely contagious. It is spread from person to person by direct skin contact or by touching clothing, bedding, towels, or objects that have come into contact with an infected person’s skin. It can also be acquired in public showers or locker rooms, through soil that has ringworm fungus, and through animals such as household pets that have the ringworm fungus.

Ringworm is contagious until sores have healed completely.

How Is Jock Itch (Tinea Cruris) Diagnosed?

Jock itch (tinea cruris) is diagnosed with a physical examination of the affected skin. Tests that may be used to diagnose jock itch include:

  • Skin scraping to be examined under a microscope or sent to a laboratory for a fungal culture
  • Ultraviolet light used to diagnose two species of ringworm: Microsporum canis and audouini

What Is the Treatment for Jock Itch (Tinea Cruris)?

Most cases of jock itch (tinea cruris) can be successfully treated with an antifungal creams, lotions, or gels, many of which are available over-the-counter (OTC) without a prescription. Extensive or recurrent infections may require prescription systemic antifungal therapy.

In addition to over-the-counter antifungal products, home treatment for jock itch (tinea cruris) includes: 

  • Keeping the groin area clean and dry 
  • Wearing cotton underwear
  • Avoiding tight-fitting clothes
  • Treating athlete's foot (tinea pedis) at the same time
    • Athlete’s foot is a common source of ringworm infection in the groin
    • If it is not treated, groin infection usually recurs

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Reviewed on 12/15/2020
References
https://www.uptodate.com/contents/ringworm-including-athletes-foot-and-jock-itch-beyond-the-basics

https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/ringworm/index.html