Also known as tinea cruris, jock itch is a fungal infection occurring in moist and warm body areas like the inner thighs, genitals, and buttocks. It is marked by the formation of a reddish, itchy, and circular rashes in the affected areas.
The condition is more prevalent in people who perspire excessively, like athletes, and hence the name. Overweight people are also prone to developing jock itch.
Jock itch may be troublesome and discomforting, but generally not serious. Treatment involves use of topical antifungals and keeping the groin region dry and clean.
Symptoms of jock itch
Some of the common signs and symptoms of jock itch are listed below:
- It typically starts with itchiness in the groin area, including the buttocks, genitals, inner thighs, anal region, and skin folds in the region. Subsequently, an area of reddened skin will appear; it will enlarge from the folds in the groin in a crescent shape and spread to the upper thighs.
- The rashes that eventually develops feature a center with normal skin tone and borders that are redder and abnormal.
- The edges of the rash are distinctive and may elicit a series of tiny raised patches or bumps that occasionally look like blisters.
- The plate-like patches on skin are itchy. It may exhibit scaling, flaking, peeling or cracking of the skin. Patients may experience burning sensations in the infected region.
- In the later stages, jock itch rash may dry out and become bumpy and rough. It may even form pus and start oozing. This may cause the rash to emit a foul odor. Untreated instances may result in complications such as open sores, skin damage, and ulcers. In rare cases, non-treatment can result in cellulitis.
Causes of jock itch
Jock itch is caused due to infection by a fungus that typically spreads from one individual to another via sharing of contaminated clothing, towels, etc. In most cases, the fungus which causes athlete’s foot is the same one which causes jock itch. It is quite common for athlete’s foot associated infection to migrate from the feet to the pelvic area as the fungus can transmit via a towel or through the hands.
Jock itch causing pathogens tend to grow and thrive in warm, humid and closed environments. Such environments promote excessive sweating; increased perspiration washes away the oils that kill fungus, thereby increasing the skin’s permeability and its susceptibility to varied infections. For the reasons mentioned above, damp and warm environments are ideal for the spread of the infection.
Men are more prone to developing jock itch then women. Being overweight or obese, wearing tight or ill-fitting underwear, use of unwashed athletic supporters or underwear, an impaired immune system, heavy sweating, and presence of skin disorders other than jock itch, like atopic dermatitis, are some of the risk factors that can increase the vulnerability to developing jock itch.
Is it contagious?
It can transmit with close skin contact with affected person. Apart from physical relationship, even towels and clothes like swim wear can spread it another person. Also, a point to know is that the chance of another person to get the infection depends on his or health condition, immunity and moisture in the skin.
Treatment of jock itch
Discussed below are some of the treatment options for jock itch. These will also help get rid of the smell.
- Mild cases can be resolved with OTC antifungal lotions, ointments, sprays, or powders. The rash clears up quite rapidly and so does the smell. But patients should continue to use the topical medicines for a minimum of ten days, 2 times per day.
- For severe instances of jock itch, or one which does not respond to OTC drugs, patients may require prescription topical antifungals or even pills.
- Patients with an underlying case of athlete’s foot in addition to jock itch also need to simultaneously treat the foot disease to prevent recurrence of jock itch.
Jock itch – Pictures
Some home remedies that can treat mild cases of jock itch as well as get rid of the smell are as follows:
- Garlic has antifungal qualities. You may either chew on a few cloves of garlic or make a compress by blending olive oil and some garlic cloves and then apply the compress on affected areas to alleviate itchiness.
- Dilute chlorine bleach with lots of water and soak a wash cloth in it. Then dab the washcloth on the infected region every few hours. This will kill the germs and help heal jock itch. Consult a doctor before using this remedy as bleach is quite strong and can cause skin burns.
- Application of tea tree oil can help ease burning sensations and itching.
- Take a salt bath to get rid of jock itch that is accompanied by boils and blisters. Dissolve 1 to 2 cups of salt in warm bathwater and get into the tub after it cools down a bit and becomes tepid. Salt will draw out and absorb the fluids from the blisters, dry out the rashes, and thus help get rid of the smell as well as alleviate the associated symptoms. Tap dry the infected area after the bath. Take salt baths 2 to 3 times a day for a full cure.
- Drinking lots of water, using a baking soda soak, taking a tomato juice bath, and swabbing the infected area with a solution of water and white vinegar also helps in finding relief from the symptoms of jock itch.
The below listed self-care guidelines will help get rid of the smell as well as prevent any recurrence of jock itch:
- Wear clean clothes. Change clothes, especially the underwear, at least once per day. People who sweat profusely need to change underwear more than once a day. Sweaty clothes help the growth of fungus and other germs. Ensure that workout apparels are washed after every use.
- Keep the genitals and the groin area clean and dry at all times. Powders may be applied to the area to prevent accumulation of moisture.
- Wear loose cotton undergarments that do not stick to the body. Avoid wearing tight clothes, especially tight underwear, as it may rub against the skin, chafe it, and prepare the ground for infections.
- Avoid wearing heavy clothing, particularly in humid and warm surroundings. Stay cool as much as possible.
- Avoid sharing personal items like towels, clothes, soaps, etc. with others.
- Sleep without any clothes; this will allow the area with jock itch to air out.
Filed in: Skin Problems