Jock Itch – Pictures, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

What is Jock Itch?

Jock itch is a fungal infection of the groin area that is medically known as tinea cruris. The term ‘jock itch’ is derived from this condition occurring frequently in athletes (also referred to colloquially as jocks) and that it presents with significant itching. It is also known as groin ringworm, groin fungus and scrot rot. Despite the term, tinea cruris (jock itch) does not only affect athletes or males for that matter. Any person can develop jock itch, including children and women.

Other regional names for tinea cruris includes ‘dhobi’s itch‘ in India because it is commonly seen among clothese washers (dhobis). The term ringworm is a misnomer. Jock itch like many fungal infections of the skin is due to a fungus that causes a red ring-like lesion on the skin which is said to resemble a curled worm. However, there is no actual parasitic worm involved in the infection.

What are the Symptoms of Jock Itch?

The signs and symptoms of jock itch include a rash, itching, hyperpigmentation and sometimes oozing of the skin.

Rash

The rash, as described, is typically a red ring-like lesion. The skin at the center of the rash may be normal or dry and scaly. However, in the groin region this typical appearance may not always be present. Usually the edge of the rash has a raised red border.

Itch

Itching is also quite pronounced with tinea cruris, hence the term jock itch. The itch tends to worsen when the area is covered and during hot and humid weather. Sratching the area may cause sloughed off skin cells to fall off as tiny sand-like particles.

Darkening

Darkening of the skin is more likely to occur with long term tinea cruris, particularly when treatment is delayed or the infection is recurrent. The skin appears dark brown in color and this hyperpigmentation is usually irreversible. Excessive scratching also contributes to it.

Oozing

Many people with jock itch report moisture in the affected area which has a must odor. In addition, tiny blisters form which may burst and ooze. This is more likely to be worsened by vigorously scratching that leads to breaks in the skin which may then become infected with bacteria.

Pictures of Jock Itch

Picture 1. Jock itch – Tinea cruris (source: Samuel Freire da Silva, M.D., atlasdermatologico)

Jock itch - fungi in the groin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture 2. Jock itch with hyperpigmentation (source: Samuel Freire da Silva, M.D.)

tinea_cruris_jock_itch

What Causes Jock Itch?

Jock itch is caused by fungi that have a predilection for human skin. These fungi are known as dermatophytes and are distinctly different from yeasts. Dermatophytes have the ability to digest the hardy protein known as keratin which is in the outermost layer of skin. It only infects and consumes these outer layers where it can thrive for months, years and even decades.

The groin region is prone to these infections because it is warm, moist and dark. The fungi therefore thrive in this region. However, this does not mean that every person will contract jock itch. It is more likely to occur under certain circumstances and mainly by close contact with people who are infected with this species of fungi. A break in the skin increases the chance of the fungi infecting the area.

In addition, jock itch often occurs along with another fungal infection of the skin elsewhere on the body like tinea pedis (foot ringworm). This foot infection is also known as athlete’s feet. Either the foot or groin infection may arise first and it is often spread from one area to the other by scratching. The fungus is carried on the fingers to any part of the body although the feet, groin and scalp are the most commonly affected areas.

How is Jock Itch Spread?

Jock itch is easily spread with sharing towels orĀ sportswear and other personal items. There are many different species of dermatophytes that may cause jock itch. Most are specific for human skin and therefore spread from person to person but some may also infect animals like dogs and cats. The fungus is then spread from the pet to a person who is in close contact with the animal.

Who Gets Infected?

Tinea cruris (jock itch, groin ringwom) can affect any person of any age. Adult men tend to be affected more often and it is uncommon in children. Certain risk factors increase the likelihood of develop jock itch, such as:

  • Moisture in the groin region, usually due to perspiration but also with immersion in water without drying.
  • Tight underwear, especially where there is chaffing of the skin.
  • Obesity, as skin folds increases the risk of retaining moisture.
  • Hyperhidrosis where there is excessive perspiration.
  • Sharing of personal items that may contact with the region, like underwear and groin guards.
  • Having pre-existing skin fungal infection elsewhere on the body, like athlete’s foot (foot fungus).
  • Immunodeficiency (weakened immune systems) such as in HIV infection, AIDS and diabetes.

How is Jock Itch Diagnosed?

Diagnosis of jock itch is made by examination (inspection) of the skin lesion in the groin region. In doubtful cases, rash can be scrapped and sent into microbiological laboratory. Rash in the groin may be caused by other types of fungi (Candida albicans), viruses (Herpes genitalis), bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus), allergies (itchy pants syndrome, cholinergic urticaria), inverted psoriasis, Darier’s disease, Hailey-Hailey disease (pemphigus), intertrigo, seborrheic dermatitis, and so on.

Treatment of Jock Itch with Antifungal Medications

Antifungal ointments (over-the-counter) for mild infection (1):

  • Terbinafine (Lamisil)
  • Naftifine (Naftin)
  • Miconazole (Micatin)
  • Clotrimazole (Lotrimin)

If over-the-counter ointments do not help in few days, other potent drugs should be used:

  • Ointments, such as Econazole (Spectazole) or Oxiconazole (Oxistat)
  • Medications by mouth, such as Itraconazole (Sporanox) or Fluconazole (Diflucan)
  • Terbinafine (Lamisil)

Prevention of Jock Itch

To prevent jock itch:

  • Shower or bath daily and after each sport activity or work.
  • Keep groin area dry by wearing boxer pants and airy trousers.
  • Do not share towels and sportswear with anyone.

Further Reading:

References:

  1. Jock itch treatment (mayoclinic.com)
About Jan Modric (249 Articles)
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  • blc35

    I was given doxycycline for 2 weeks for popssible prostate infection. Into the second week I started getting rectal itching and a rash. Called Dr he said to use hydrocortisone for 2 weeks if it comes back or doesn’t get better come back in. It started to come back and got worse he looked at it and said it’s now a fungal infection gave me Augmentin antibiotic and oxistat cream. He said there were 4 or 5 fissures? I guess open sores. It’s been 2 days and thought I would see some improvement. Any suggestions?

  • Jan Modric

    To blc35.

    Both doxycycline and Augmentin may cause yeast infection as a side effect. Oxistate ointment may help but if not (maybe you wait for another 1-2 days) then you may ask your doctor to get some antifungal pills.

    Fissures themselves may itch and they may heal slowly. So you should eveluate effect of antifungals by disappearing rash and not by diasappearing itch.

    It is important that you find out if you really have an infection of the prostate. Anal fissures also appear in Crohn’s disease (nausea, diarrhea…)

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  • kid

    the thigh’s symptoms are the ones that are affecting me. are there any treatments that are homemade or just something i can use at home?
    thanks

  • Jan Modric

    To kid.

    Over the counter (OTC, without prescription) ointments are available in pharmacies.

  • Francisco

    I got this candida in the groin. I am taking oral terbinafine once a day. The 5 day the itching dissapear, but it returns on the 10 day. The doctor prescript me to take terbinafie for 28 days. What can I do if I am in the 13th dat and since the 10th day the itching return? how long should be the treatment? Thanks

  • Jan Modric

    Francisco, it’s hard to say how long treatment you’ll need. Avoid having wet groin, wear airy clothes, change underwear daily during the treatment. Maybe you can also use an antifungal ointment. If the rash will still appear, I recommend you to have some blood tests to check your immunity status.

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  • pleasehelp

    had sever jock itch, took a 3-week cycle of diflucan which tookthe itch away but i still have the red rash. I’ve been using the normal OTC creams and sprays but the rash itself isn’t going away. It’s been about a month and a half now. The rash was much worse in the beginning because of the itching but I justwant it to disappear. Thanks

  • Jan Modric

    pleasehelp,

    I recommend you to ask your doctor for prescribed oral antifungal medication.

  • azeem

    actually i got jock itch by wet groin from last 2 yrs i got prescribed from doctor but not much effect and i was busy so not taking my medicine and i dont have itching and all just brown color on my groin place please give me some idea to take that brown color.

  • Jan Modric

    azeem,

    OTC ointments for jock itch exist. If an ointment does not help, your doctor can prescribe you an oral antifungal medication.

  • shelly

    i got itchy on my thighs n got rashes also.wat can i do 2 help it out.itz rilly itchy at times.

  • Jan Modric

    shelly,

    both OTC antifungal ointments and prescribed oral drugs exist, so it is your choise what to do. In persistent infection, oral drugs may be needed.

  • satish

    i am satish,22yrs old,i am having red colored circles round my penis,these r very festly spreading and these already started to spread over my thigh also,i am geting itching always.myskin is becoming black,i am applying many ointments but no use, i cant show my parts to the near by doctor also. pls tell me the medicines , ointments what all i have to use pls help me……..

  • Jan Modric

    satish,

    if antifungal ointments do not help, prescribed oral antifungal medications can.

  • mona

    i would like to know if this can go away and stay gone?

  • Jan Modric

    mona,

    a mild fungal infection can go away on its own, but antifungal ointments (or prescribed medications, if necessary) often solve the problem much quicker.

  • joey78

    I had jock itch several years ago. Tried over the counter sprays that were expensive and ineffective. Finally tried TEA TREE OIL–without diluting it. Kept the area dry after showers–meaning sleep without underwear. Oh, and I shaved the area completely. After a week and a half, it was pretty much gone. Hope this helps someone.

  • Jan Modric

    joey78,

    actually some clinical trials have confirmed, tea tree oil can be effective against skin fungal infections.

    lpi.oregonstate.edu/f-w98/teatrees.html

  • Lolla-guy92

    so i just did some research and i believe i have the same symptoms of jock itch, it hasnt spread too far its a very small spot on my right inner thigh and i can tell its growing larger at a slow rate and also my left inner thigh has the infection as well but a bit worse.Its been about 2-3 i believe that ive noticed this, not sure what i should do? take frequent showers and wash or go straight to over the counter medication?

  • Lolla-guy92

    forgot to mention theres no itch or burning feeling yet, just the skin is messed up

  • Jan Modric

    Lolla-guy92,

    a rash from a fungal infection, what a jock itch is, can’t be just washed off, and, yes, OTC ointments are available. I don’t know, if you have jock itch or not, though.

  • azzam

    i had jock itch 5 years ago. the itch had disappeared 2 years back, but the skin around the affected area (inner thigh of both legs, and buttocks) is hyperpigmented (black in colour). can my skin return to its normal colour?

  • Jan Modric

    azzam,

    a dermatologist can explain you what exactly has happened, and how can be treated.

  • star_24

    joey78-does it work?

  • dschue

    I had jock itch very badly for awhile. I tried all the medications but couldnt seem to shake it. I saw on something that garlic was a good treatment. I took garlic pills for about 2 weeks and everything cleared up. Since then, if it seems I am having a flare up, I take the garlic pills and everything is fine.

  • santh

    i have remaining or residual patches of this infection darker than my original skin what should i do for that pls help me

  • Jan Modric

    santh,

    residual discoloration may last for weeks or months after the infection has healed. Various ointments to speed up full recovery are available – a dermatologist can help you.

  • shoaib

    hi guys !! i have this fungal infaction since last 3 months … i do not know how but now its turn into purple colour !! may b it is because of creams which i used !! please tell me it is safe to b in purple colour or i have to worry about it !!

  • Dr. Chris

    Hi Shoaib

    A long standing fungal infection, especially if it is severe and you are scratching the area a lot, can cause discoloration of the skin. Usually it should not be prominent within just 3 months and should appear like a dark brown discoloration (hyperpigmentation). I would advise that you get this purple colored rash looked at by a doctor. This could also be related to any topical applications (cream/gel) that you are used.

  • nomad

    31/3/2011
    I have tried several creams that my Dr reccommended,but to no avail.I are now trying “hydrogen Peroxide 3%” purchased over the counter.Just wipe it on.
    Its only the second day,so I have nothing to report yet,but will later if it works.