Jock itch (tinea cruris) is a form of
ringworm. Ringworm is not a worm at all. It is a
fungal infection of the outer layers of skin, hair, or
nails. Fungi (plural of fungus) are present everywhere in our
Ringworm of the skin appears as a rash with patches
that may be red or peeling or that have bumps on the edges that look like
blisters. The skin often is itchy, and the rash can spread quickly. You can
have both jock itch and athlete's foot (tinea pedis) at the same time.
What causes jock itch?
Jock itch is
caused by a fungus. Fungi commonly grow on or in the top layer of skin. They
may or may not cause an infection. Fungi grow best in warm, moist areas of the
body such as the groin, inner thighs, and buttocks.
As the name
suggests, jock itch mostly affects male athletes, but anyone can get it. Using
public showers and locker rooms increases your chances of getting jock itch.
Fungi grow best in the steamy rooms among damp towels, sweaty workout clothes,
and wet floors. So it's not surprising that jock itch and athlete's foot often
occur at the same time, since both are caused by fungi.
What are the symptoms of jock itch?
jock itch include the following:
Itching and pain are common.
is on the groin, skin folds, inner thighs, or buttocks. The rash usually does
not occur on the scrotum or penis.
The edge of the rash is very
distinct and may be scaly or have bumps that look like
The center of the rash may have a red-brown color.
How is jock itch diagnosed?
Jock itch is annoying, but it usually is not serious. If you have had
jock itch in the past, you may recognize the symptoms. Your doctor can tell if
you have jock itch after asking questions about your symptoms and past health
and by looking at your rash. Your doctor may scrape a little of the rash on a
glass slide so that he or she can look at it under a microscope.
How is jock itch treated?
ringworm infections of the skin, such as jock itch, can be treated at home with
antifungal creams and powders you can buy without a prescription. But have your
doctor look at any infection that does not go away, is severe, or comes back.
To treat jock itch, follow these steps:
Wash the rash with soap and water. Spread an
antifungal cream over the rash. Apply the cream beyond the edge of the
Use an antifungal cream or powder that contains
terbinafine, miconazole, or clotrimazole. You can buy these products without a
prescription. Brand names include Lamisil, Lotrimin, Micatin, and Monistat.
Follow the directions on the package, and don't stop using the medicine just
because your symptoms go away. Use the medicine exactly as the label says. If
symptoms do not improve after 2 weeks, call your doctor.
cases, ringworm of the skin causes large areas of blisters. If your ringworm
forms blisters, you can use compresses (such as Burow's compress, which you can
buy without a prescription) to soothe and dry out the blisters. After the skin
is dried out, use antifungal creams that you can buy without a
If you have jock itch and athlete's foot, you should treat both
to prevent reinfecting your groin when you put on your underwear.
How can I prevent jock itch?
You can help prevent jock itch by keeping your groin, inner thighs, and
buttocks clean and dry. Dry off well after you exercise and shower. Try these
other steps to prevent jock itch:
Wash your workout clothes, underwear, socks,
and towels after each use.
Wear shower shoes when you use public
showers and locker rooms.
If you have athlete's foot, you should
treat it. During treatment, put your socks on before you put on your underwear.
This will prevent the spread of the fungus from your feet to your
If you keep getting athlete's foot, dry your feet last when
you towel off after a shower or bath. This can help prevent spreading infection
from your feet to your groin.
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William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.