What is Jock Itch?

Jock refers to “a person trained to participate in competitive sports”; the term is usually used for young male athletes.

Jock itch - fungi in the groinPicture 1. Jock itch – Tinea cruris (source: Samuel Freire da Silva, M.D., atlasdermatologico << click and search for ‘Tinea cruris’ for additional images)

Jock itch (other names: Tinea cruris, tinea or ringworm of the groin, dhobi itch, scrot rot) is a fungal infection affecting the moist skin on the inner thighs, genitals, anal area or buttocks, appearing in both men and women. Affected skin is covered by red or brown rash that may be ring-shaped. Rash may itch or burn; affected skin may peel off or crack.

What Causes Jock Itch?

Jock itch is usually caused by fungi that normally live on the skin (dermatophytes). In moist areas like the groin, these fungi may overgrow and cause infection. The group of fungi usually involved is called Tinea cruris (Gk. crus = limb), but infection can also spread from athletes foot (caused by Tinea pedis) or from scalp fungal infection (caused by Tinea capitis). The common name for these fungi is ringworm, since the rash they cause often has a shape of ring.

How is Jock Itch Spread?

Jock itch is easily spread with sharing towels or sportswear, or with sexual contact.

Who Gets Infected?

Adult men that often have moist groin are often infected. Jock itch may also appear in women. It rarely appears before 15 years of age. Risk factors for getting jock itch are:

  • Wet groin; (male athletes, dhobi itch is known in western washermen)
  • Tight underwear
  • Obesity; infection occurs in wet skin folds
  • Immunodeficiency: AIDS, diabetes

How is Jock Itch Diagnosed?

Diagnosis of jock itch is made by body examination (inspection). 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)

Article reviewed by Dr. Greg. Last updated on April 26, 2014