The common male complaint, Tinea cruris, is known by many colloquial pseudonyms including jock itch, crotch itch, crotch rot and even gym itch.
What is jock itch, exactly?
Jock itch is a ringworm infection located specifically in the groin area which occurs in both sexes but is predominantly seen in adolescent and adult males. This fungal condition flourishes in warm, moist areas between the groin and the scrotum.
What sets it off?
Clothing that continually rubs the crotch and wetness in the groin area between the folds of skin are the principle causes of jock itch. Wetness may be derived from a lack of care in drying off properly after washing or excessive sweating – hence the prevalence in younger, active men.
A pre-existing condition of athlete’s foot will also encourage the onset of jock itch.
How bad can it get?
Most men who suffer from Tinea cruris experience:
- Itchy, or burning, red patches in the groin area
- Possible extended itching to the thighs and anal region
- Scaling and blistering of the red patches (which may discharge in extreme cases).
The patches of infection are well defined areas with the advancing outer edges generally redder than the centre.
How can I clear it up?
In most cases jock itch can be self-administered and the condition will typically clear up in around two weeks.
The three basic steps of treatment are:
- Dry the groin area effectively and keep the skin clean
- Wear loose clothing to prevent irritating the area further (changing sportswear regularly is also recommended)
- Apply a topical anti-fungal cream or powder (an example of which is clotrimazole which can be obtained over the counter at chemists with no prescription)
If the jock itch persists for longer, or returns frequently, your doctor may suggest a more effective solution such as hydrocortisone steroid cream or a course of antibiotics.
How likely is it to return?
Maintaining good habits is the key to preventing jock itch from flaring up again.
It is very important, particularly if you are an active sportsperson, to ensure:
- The groin area is always dried well
- Only dry clothing is put on directly after bathing or exercise (perspiration)
- Loose, cotton underwear is used
- Clothing and towels are never shared (a separate towel for feet is recommended if you have athlete’s foot).
It is worth remembering that even when you’ve managed to bring the infection under control to continue to use anti-fungal powder as part of your daily routine. This will go a long way in ensuring any jock itch does not return.