What is Jock Itch?

Runner athlete running on stairs.

Jock itch, medically known as tinea cruris, is a fungal infection of the skin on the genitals, inner thighs, and buttocks. Although this rash is uncomfortable and unsightly, it is rarely serious.

Jock itch is characterized by an itchy, red rash, often ring-shaped, that appears in areas of the body prone to sweating and chafing. The warmth and moisture of spots like the groin, inner thighs, and buttocks encourages the fungus to grow. It most commonly occurs in people who sweat a lot, such as athletes (it affects males more than females) and those who are overweight. However, you can also contract it from exposure to moist areas like locker rooms, public showers, and sweaty workout clothing or towels, which is why many people experience it along with athlete’s foot.

The rash appears in patchy, red spots which may peel in areas, or have scaly bumps that resemble small blisters. Because it’s technically a type of ringworm (which is a fungus, not a parasite), it may take a circular shape. It’s itchy and spreads quickly, and it can be painful.

Jock itch is usually easily identifiable by a doctor, although they may take a skin swab, especially if it is severe, widespread, or lingers for a long time even after home treatment. In general, the rash is easily treated from home. Over the counter anti-fungal medications should be applied liberally past the edges of the rash, after the area has been washed and dried. It’s important to use these creams as directed, for the appropriate length of time — don’t stop using as soon as the symptoms clear up, but follow directions exactly. If the area blisters, try a compress, available at the pharmacy, to help dry and heal them.

You can help prevent jock itch by washing your towels, socks, underwear, and workout clothes regularly, and wear shower shoes in public areas. If you have athlete’s foot, it’s important to treat it so that it doesn’t spread or re-infect you while changing clothes.

If the rash doesn’t clear up after two weeks with home treatment, consult your doctor.

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