What Is Jock Itch?

Tinea cruris (known more commonly as “jock itch”) is an infection caused by fungi that live on human skin, hair, and nails. In warm, damp conditions (like the groin area after an intense workout) the fungi are able to multiply, leaving an itchy, red rash on the affected area.

Who is Most at Risk of Contracting Jock Itch?

While anyone can contract jock itch, it is most prevalent in male adults and teenagers who play contact sports. People who are overweight, have diabetes, or sweat a lot are also at a higher risk of developing jock itch. Locker rooms or shared exercise equipment can be breeding grounds for the fungus. Jock itch can be prevented by cleaning shared exercise equipment, not sharing towels, and wearing loose, dry clothing.

What Are The Symptoms of Jock Itch?

Jock itch can cause redness, itching, or burning as well as flaky or cracking skin of the infected area (usually the groin and inner thighs). The rash often has a raised, scaly border. In more serious cases, the rash can spread to the abdomen or buttocks. Oftentimes the rash will become worse following strenuous activity like exercising or playing sports.

Is Jock Itch the Same As Athlete’s Foot?

Both are caused by fungi (tinea or “ringworm”) and cause similar reactions on the skin. The primary difference is where the infection occurs on the body. Jock itch occurs in the groin area, while athlete’s foot refers to an infection on the feet. If the infection is anywhere else on the skin or scalp, it’s simply known as ringworm.

How Is Jock Itch Contracted?

Oftentimes, jock itch is contracted from staying in sweaty workout clothes too long. Not showering or changing clothes after sweating allow the fungi to multiply and cause jock itch. Wearing tight fitting workout attire that doesn’t “breathe” can increase your chances of developing jock itch as moisture becomes trapped. To avoid contracting jock itch, it’s always best to shower, wash yourself thoroughly, and dry yourself completely with a clean towel following a tough workout.

Is Jock Itch Contagious?

Yes, jock itch can be passed from one person to another, but it’s easy to avoid as long as you take precautionary measures, like not sharing personal items like towels, bathing suits, or jock straps, then you should be fine. The fabrics in these items can potentially transmit the disease from one person to another. It’s best to wipe down exercise equipment before and after you use it and to avoid going barefoot in locker rooms or around pools.

Is Jock Itch An STD?

Being sexually active is not a risk factor for developing jock itch. However, jock itch is mildly contagious and can be transferred via skin-to-skin contact when conditions are favorable (remember what we said about warm, damp environments). So while it’s not considered to be an STD, jock itch can potentially be passed from one person to another via sexual contact. For this reason, you may want to abstain from intercourse until the rash is gone.

How Does Jock Itch Differ From Herpes?

While jock itch is a fungal infection, genital herpes is caused by a virus. Caused almost exclusively by skin-to-skin contact with another person’s open sores, genital herpes will leave fluid-filled blisters that may burst, leaving open sores that may be painful. Jock it, however, causes a scaly, reddish rash. While both can cause discomfort in the groin region, they don’t look alike. If you’re unsure whether a rash is jock itch, genital herpes, or something else, you’ll want to consult with your physician.

How Is Jock Itch Cured?

Jock itch is usually curable with over-the-counter topical creams, ointments, sprays, or powders. These are usually applied to the affected area once or twice daily for a period of several weeks, depending on the medication. In some more extreme cases, prescription strength medication may be needed.