Jock itch gets its name from its location: the groin area covered by a jockstrap. Just like other health conditions that occur in groin region, Jock itch can be cured. But did you know women can get jock itch, too? Let’s look at the cause and treatment of jock itch.
A FUNGUS AMONG US
You may be surprised to learn jock itch, athlete’s foot and ringworm all are caused by the same fungus. The medical term for this fungus is “tinea.” When tinea occurs in the groin area, it’s called tinea cruris. Athlete’s foot is called “tinea pedis,” and ringworm is called simply “tinea.” That’s right: ringworm is not caused by a worm.The tinea fungus loves warm, moist conditions to grow in. The groin, feet and scalp provide an ideal living environment for this fungus. Tinea spreads from person to person by direct contact with the skin. You can get tinea by touching an infected person’s skin or by contacting surfaces colonized by the tinea fungus.
SYMPTOMS OF TINEA INFECTION (JOCK ITCH)
All tinea fungal infections include similar symptoms. You may notice:
- An itchy skin rash with red, raised lesions
- Itchy skin lesions that crack and/or ooze
- Skin rash in which the lesions appear ring-like: that is, darker at the edges and lighter in the center
- An itchy rash in the groin area, between the toes or elsewhere on the skin
RISK FACTORS FOR GETTING A TINEA INFECTION
Anyone can develop a tinea infection in some form. You may be at higher risk for developing a tinea infection if you regularly get sweaty (such as from participation in sports), share personal care items with others (such as razors), use public showers, pools or other wet areas, or fail to dry your skin thoroughly in the groin or foot areas.
PREVENTING TINEA INFECTIONS
Because tinea infections can be persistent and hard to cure, your best bet is prevention. You can reduce your risk of developing a fungal infection by following these suggestions:
- Dry your skin thoroughly in the groin and foot areas. Use a powder, if necessary, to keep these areas dry throughout the day.
- When using public wet areas, such as a shower or pool area, always wear a foot covering. Sandals, flip-flops or beach shoes provide a barrier between the skin of your foot and any fungal colonies on tile floors.
- Avoid sharing personal care items, such as razors and combs, with other people. Especially avoid sharing these items with people who have a known fungal infection.
- Wash tight-fitting athletic clothing, such as jockstraps, frequently.
TREATMENT FOR JOCK ITCH AND OTHER TINEA INFECTIONS
The most effective treatment for jock itch, athlete’s foot or other tinea fungal infections is an over-the-counter antifungal medication. If possible, use a powder form of the medication, as this will also help dry out the moist area where the fungus thrives. You can find jock itch medication in cream or ointment form, as well as powder.
If your tinea infection won’t clear up or comes back repeatedly, see your healthcare provider for stronger medication to kill the fungus.
JOCK ITCH: ANNOYING BUT TREATABLE
Jock itch won’t kill you, but it’s certainly annoying to deal with. By taking steps to avoid getting infected with the tinea fungus, you can enjoy an active lifestyle without the itchy groin rash we call “jock itch.”