What Is Jock Itch?
Jock itch (tinea cruris) is a form of ringworm, a skin infection caused by dermatophytes, which are a type of fungus that lives on the dead outer layer of skin. Despite the name, there is no worm involved in the condition. It’s called “ringworm” because it can cause a circular rash shaped like a ring.
Jock itch occurs more frequently in men than in women, and often during warm or hot weather or after a period of heavy sweating.
What Are Symptoms of Jock Itch?
The symptoms of jock itch (tinea cruris) appear 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
- Skin redness
- Scaly, cracked skin
What Causes Jock Itch?
Jock itch (tinea cruris) is caused by a form of ringworm, which a skin infection of dermatophytes, a type of fungus that lives on the dead outer layer of skin.
The most common source of the infection that causes jock itch is a person's own tinea pedis (athlete's foot).
Risk factors for developing ringworm include:
- People with weakened immune systems (such as from HIV/AIDS, diabetes, cancer, chemotherapy, or use of certain medications)
- Use of public locker rooms or showers
- Participation in contact sports, such as wrestling
- Excessive sweating in tight clothing
- Close contact with affected animals such as household pets
- Working with soil that has ringworm fungus
- Living in a warm and humid climate
- Close contact with an infected person
- Sharing bedding, towels, or clothing with an infected person
How Is Jock Itch Diagnosed?
Jock itch (tinea cruris) is diagnosed with a physical examination of the affected skin. Tests that may be indicated to diagnose jock itch include:
- Skin scraping to be examined under a microscope or sent to a laboratory for a fungal culture
- Ultraviolet light can only diagnose two species: Microsporum canis and audouinii
What Is the Treatment for Jock Itch?
Most cases of jock itch (tinea cruris) will not go away on their own, but can be successfully treated with an antifungal creams/lotions/gels, many of which are available over-the-counter (OTC) without a prescription.
In addition to over-the-counter antifungal products, 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 often the source of the ringworm infection in the groin
- If it is not treated, the groin infection will likely recur
- Extensive or recurrent infections may require systemic antifungal therapy
How Do You Prevent Jock Itch?
To prevent jock itch (tinea cruris) and other skin infections:
- Athletes should not share sports gear with others
- Participants in close contact sports should shower immediately after practice and keep sports gear clean
- Don’t go barefoot in the gym, public pool, or other public areas
- Keep skin clean and dry
- Dry off thoroughly after showering or bathing
- Wear loose shoes to allow air to circulate freely around the feet
- Do not share clothing, towels, sheets, or personal items with someone who has ringworm