Jock itch is a fungal infection of the skin on the groin and inner area of the thighs. The medical name for jock itch is tinea cruris.
Common fungus organisms that grow best in warm, moist areas cause jock itch. Fungus can be transmitted from one person to another by:
- Direct contact between people
- Indirect contact, such as sharing towels that are infected with the fungus
Hot, humid conditions can increase your risk of jock itch. Other risk factors include:
- Perspiring heavily
- Being obese
- Wearing tight clothing
- Wearing dirty clothing, especially underwear or athletic supporters
- Infrequently changing underwear
- Infrequent showering
- Sharing towels or clothing with other people
- Using public showers or locker rooms
- Contact sports such as wrestling
- Having an immune system disorder
Both men and women can be affected. The condition is more common in men, especially those who perspire heavily.
Jock itch causes a chafed, itchy, and sometimes painful rash around the groin and thigh. The area near the anus may also be affected. The rash is:
- Usually red, tan, or brown
- Usually defined clearly at the edges
- Often slightly scaly
- May be swollen or have blisters
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Jock itch can usually be diagnosed based on the appearance and location of the rash.
Typical Location of Rash
In some cases, a lab test of the infected skin area may be ordered.
Over-the-counter antifungal creams can usually treat jock itch. Creams or lotions work better on jock itch than sprays. In severe or persistent cases, your doctor may prescribe stronger creams or oral medication. Use your prescription for the entire time that your doctor recommends. This will help prevent the rash from returning. If your rash does not go away within a month of treatment, call your doctor.
Antifungal creams can effectively treat jock itch. Some medications may work faster, but are often more expensive. Creams are usually used for 2-4 weeks.
Note: Do not use antifungal creams recommended for athlete's foot. These may be too harsh for the groin.
If the rash doesn't improve with the cream, an oral medication may be needed.
Call the doctor if the rash begins to ooze. The rash may also be infected with bacteria. If this occurs, you may be given an antibiotic.
To help reduce your chance of jock itch:
- Shower regularly.
- Always shower soon after exercising or perspiring heavily.
- After showering, dry the groin area thoroughly.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing.
- Wear cotton underwear and breathable clothing.
- Avoid wearing clothing that chafes your groin.
- Always wash your clothes, especially underwear and athletic supporters.
- Do not share towels or clothing with others.
- Do not wear wet swimsuits for a long period of time.
- Do not store damp clothing in your locker or gym bag.
- Avoid contact with persons with the infection.
Jock itch may result from an athlete’s foot or a toenail infection. To prevent it from spreading to the groin area:
- Treat the foot or toenail infection with proper medications (talk to your doctor first)
- Use a separate towel to dry your feet
- Put your socks on or cover your feet before putting on underwear or pants
- Avoid touching your feet, then your groin, when washing or getting dressed
- Wash your hands after touching your feet and/or groin
American Academy of Dermatology
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Canadian Dermatology Association
Tinea cruris. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 3, 2014. Accessed January 12, 2015.
Tinea infections. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/tinea-infections.html. Updated April 2014. Accessed January 12, 2015.
Last reviewed January 2015 by David L Horn, MD, FACP
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.