May 30, 2023

What Is Jock Itch?

jock itch in males
Jock itch is an infection caused by microscopic fungi called dermatophytes found naturally on your skin, nails, and hair. When the fungi are allowed to multiply in a warm, moist environment, they can cause jock itch symptoms. 

Also called tinea cruris, the infection tends to develop in the skin around the groin, buttocks, and inner thigh. The condition is most common in teenage boys.  

Jock Itch Symptoms

What does jock itch look like and feel like? It can produce several different symptoms on the skin in the affected area, including:

  • Redness or other changes in skin color
  • Itching
  • So-called “jock itch rash” that worsens when you exercise and after using anti-itch cream (hydrocortisone)
  • Burning sensation
  • Cracking, flaking, or peeling skin

Jock itch generally affects the skin of the groin and inner thighs. However, it can spread to the buttocks and abdomen. It typically doesn’t affect the scrotum. 

Jock Itch Risk Factors and Causes

You’re more likely to develop jock itch if:

  • You’re a teenager.
  • You’re male.
  • You wear tight clothing.
  • You tend to sweat heavily when exercising.
  • You’re overweight or obese and have skin folds where fungi can thrive.
  • Your immune system is compromised by an underlying medical condition or the treatment for a health problem.
  • You have diabetes

Jock itch is caused by the existence of conditions that help the fungi multiply. In other words, it develops when you sweat, and your skin and clothing stay warm and moist for extended periods. 

Is Jock Itch Contagious?

The fungus that causes jock itch can spread between people if they have close physical contact or if a person wears another’s unwashed clothing. And, despite its name, the condition isn’t limited to “jocks” or athletes. Anyone whose skin stays warm and moist for too long can develop jock itch. 

How Is Jock Itch Diagnosed?

Doctors diagnose jock itch by examining the affected skin. They may also obtain some skin cells from the area and analyze them to confirm their diagnosis and rule out other skin conditions like psoriasis that cause similar symptoms. 

How Is Jock Itch Treated?

If your doctor diagnoses you with jock itch, they’ll likely have you try an over-the-counter antifungal medication. They come in spray, powder, lotion, and ointment forms. The typical course of treatment is one to two weeks, and you should follow your doctor’s directions even if the infection clears up before the end of the treatment period. 

If you develop a severe case of jock itch, your doctor may prescribe prescription-strength ointments, creams, or oral medication. 

The same fungus causes both jock itch and athlete’s foot. So, your doctor may recommend treating both areas simultaneously. 

How to Prevent Jock Itch

You can reduce your risk of developing jock itch by taking these actions:

  • Bathe after exercising and keep your skin clean and dry as much as possible. 
  • Dry your skin thoroughly after washing. 
  • Wear loose-fitting rather than tight clothing, especially in warm, humid weather. 
  • Don’t wear another person’s unwashed clothing.
  • Avoid close physical contact with someone who has jock itch until their infection clears. 

Get Help with Jock Itch from Your Baptist Health Doctor

If you experience jock itch symptoms, contact your primary care physician. They can diagnose your condition and prescribe the appropriate treatment. If you don’t have a Baptist Health doctor, you can find one in our online provider directory.

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