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Jock itch is a fungal infection of the genitals and/or surrounding skin. It belongs to the category of ringworm infections (tinea), which are caused by a fungus that festers in warm, humid conditions.
The genital area has many skin folds and is poorly ventilated, sweaty, and warm, making it an ideal spot for the growth of the causative fungi.
It typically begins with the appearance of a scaly, itchy rash on the groin, which can then spread to your inner thighs and buttocks and later to other parts of the body through direct or indirect contact.
Self-Care Measures for Relief From Jock Itch
No reliable home remedies or home cures can help relieve the condition. The most you can do is to contain the spread of infection by following proper hygiene.
The following self-care measures are aimed at promoting personal cleanliness, which is essential for preventing jock itch. If nothing else, these tips can help you recover better and faster if you already have the infection.
- Shower regularly, especially after doing any form of activity that results in heavy perspiration.
- Keep the groin area clean and dry at all times. After taking a bath, you must air-dry the affected skin, or use a separate towel to pat it dry gently.
- Do not apply oily products on the infected skin as they can increase sweating while clogging your pores, perfect conditions for the fungus to thrive.
- Sanitize or wash your hands after touching the infected skin to avoid spreading the infection to other people, surfaces, is imperative for you as well as other parts of your own body.
- Resist the urge to scratch the rash to prevent further skin damage. Rubbing the itchy skin will only irritate it further and can also pave the way for a secondary bacterial infection.
- Soothe the irritated skin with topical cold therapy. Wash the area with cool water. You may also wrap ice cubes in a plastic bag and place it on the affected region, or keep a cold washcloth over it.
- Wash your clothes regularly – underwear and athleisure in particular. Change out of wet or sweaty clothes as soon as possible, and wear fresh, clean, dry underwear every day.
- Wear soft and loose fabrics like cotton that allow your skin to breathe and minimize perspiration. This applies to both your underwear and overall clothing. Avoid wearing clothes that can cause itching or can rub against your body parts.
- Keep your lockers and gym bag clean. Avoid keeping damp and soiled linen in them.
- Sprinkle desiccant powder on your crotch region to keep it dry and sweat-free.
- Apply over-the-counter antifungal creams, gels, and ointments (1)(2) on the affected area, as per the instructions on the label. Complete the full course of medication to banish the infection for good.
Most-Asked Questions About Jock Itch
Is jock itch contagious?
Jock itch is a mildly contagious form of fungal infection. Even though most cases of jock itch do not pose a serious contamination risk, you must always err at the side of caution, whether you have the infection yourself or know someone who does.
Because the infection is primarily located in the genital region, it can easily be transmitted during sex. One can also pick up the infection-causing fungus through direct or indirect contact with the affected individual.
How is jock itch spread?
The fungus responsible for jock itch grows well in the warm damp conditions of steamy public bathrooms and facilities such as locker rooms and showers.
The moisture and steam help the fungus grow, colonize the area, and infect the towels, sweaty clothes, wet floors, and damp walls within the rooms. It is from these regions that you are likely to become infected with the fungus.
The fungal infection mostly spreads through:
- Wearing infected clothes
- Using towels and linen soiled with the fungus
- Touching the infected skin of the affected individual
- Using contaminated personal items of the affected individual, such as towels, undergarments, and swimwear
Can the rash be a sign of something other than jock itch?
Various infections present symptoms similar to those manifested by jock itch. These conditions can be differentiated by analyzing the different causative conditions.
The conditions similar to jock itch are: (3)
- Candidal intertrigo: It affects the scrotum and shows satellite red-colored lesions lacking a clear center.
- Erythrasma: A reddish-brown lesion without any demarcated border.
- Inverse psoriasis: Characterized by red-colored lesions with a sharp demarcation from the rest of the skin. It can also manifest in the form of nail pitting.
- Seborrheic dermatitis: Characterized by scaly lesions and red skin spread over the scalp, hairline, chest, nasolabial folds, eyebrows, and postauricular folds.
Jock itch is a contagious fungal infection that can cause a lot of discomfort in and around the groin area. It is important to readily treat the rash when it first occurs to avoid its spread to other areas of the body and other people and to prevent the development of painful fissures that take longer to heal.
In most cases, the condition can be managed through simple home care using OTC fungal ointments, powders, and sprays along with the above-mentioned self-care. However, if the rash does not respond to these first-line measures, you should see a dermatologist about it for a stronger antifungal medication.
Stick to a proper personal hygiene routine even after the rash clears to avoid recurrence.