Jock itch is a fungal skin infection. It is caused by a fungus commonly present in gyms and locker rooms. Jock itch mostly affects males, although it is possible for females to get it, too. Jock itch occurs around the groin as a skin rash but can occur on your upper thigh, scrotum, vagina, and anus. This is not a serious matter. The itching can, therefore, be very uncomfortable, even painful.
What are the symptoms of jock itch?
Symptoms of jock itch in the affected area may include:
- Persistent itching
- Burning sensation
- Flaking, peeling, or cracking skin
- Rash that does not improve or worsen, or spread with hydrocortisone (anti-itch) cream with over-the-counter
- Rash which becomes worse with exercise or activity
- Changes in skin color
Typical jock itch affects the groin and inner thighs. It may spread to the abdomen and buttocks, but the scrotum usually isn’t affected.
When to seek medical help?
If jock itch continues for 1 to 2 weeks in spite of good skincare and the use of over-the-counter medications, it may be appropriate to make an appointment to see a doctor. Additionally, if the rash gets worse despite medical attention or if any of the following symptoms of a systemic skin infection emerge, contact a doctor.
- Spreading despite treatment
- Increasing pain
- Fever or chills
- Rapidly spreading rash
- Red line(s) extending from the groin (called lymphangitis)
- Failure to change 2 weeks after continuous topical care
- Formation of pus, abscesses, or draining sores
What causes jock itch?
Jock itch is caused by a fungus. Fungi usually develop on or in the upper skin layer. They may cause an infection, or not. Fungi are best developed in dry, moist body areas such as the groin, inner thighs and buttocks.
Jock itch, as the name implies, mainly affects male athletes, but everyone can get it. The use of public bathrooms and lockers raises the risk of having jock itch. Fungi grow best between damp sheets, sweaty workout clothes, and wet floors in the steamy rooms. So it’s not shocking that sometimes jock itch and athlete’s foot occur concurrently, because both are caused by fungi.
Jock Itch Risk Factors
You might get jock itch if you:
- Wear tight clothes that irritate your skin
- Get moisture from sweating in the genital area
- Long wearing a wet bathing suit
- Share warm towels or sweaty clothes with others
- Have near touch with someone with jock itch
- Have a weakened immune system or diabetes
Complications of Jock itch
There are no serious complications associated with jock-itch, as it is a self-limiting disease.
The following complications can occur in patients with serious jock itch infection and without adequate treatment:
- Spread of the disease to the penis in the males
- Spread of infection to the vagina in the females, causing vaginal discharge
- Secondary infections like cellulitis or abscess formation
- Temporary skin pigmentation (discoloration)
- Permanent scars (rarely)
- Depression and social isolation
By taking these steps you can reduce your risk of jock itch:
- Stay dry: Hold the area around your groin dry. Upon showering or exercising thoroughly dry your genital region and inner thighs with a clean towel. Dry your feet last to prevent the athlete’s foot infection from spreading to the groin area.
- Wear clean clothes: If you sweat a lot, change your undergarments at least once a day or more often. It helps wear cotton underwear or other fabric that breathes and keeps the skin drier. Wash workout clothes after each use.
- Find the correct fit: Make sure that your clothes fit properly, particularly underwear, athletic fans, and sports uniforms. Avoid tight clothes that can rub and chafe your skin and place you at an increased risk of jock itching. Seek to wear boxer shorts, instead of briefs.
- Don’t share personal items: Don’t let anyone use your shoes, towels, or other personal belongings. Don’t let anyone borrow these things.
- Treat or prevent athlete’s foot. Monitor foot infection of any athlete to prevent their spread to the groin. When you spend time in public places that are warm, such as a gym pool, wearing sandals will help avoid athlete’s foot.