It’s annoying; it’s uncomfortable and definitely avoidable. We’re talking about jock itch, a common fungal infection of the skin of the groin area.
This prickly, inflamed rash is especially common in individuals that are prone to sweating. Though it is troublesome, jock itch is a mild infection that can be treated with topical antifungal medications and home remedies as well.
Read on to know how you can prevent and get rid of jock itch on your own.
What is jock itch?
Jock itch, medically known as tinea cruris, is a fungal infection in the groin area. It is commonly caused by a fungus known as Trichophyton rubrum.
It grows in a circle and often looks like as ring, which is why jock itch is also called the ringworm of the groin.
The fungus that causes the jock itch lives on the skin, hair, and nails and is typically harmless. However, it can multiply quickly and cause infections which thrive in warm and moist areas, which is the reason why jock itch develops in the skin around the groin, inner thighs and buttocks.
Jock itch is more common in man and adolescent boys as compared to women. Sweating, friction from clothes usually trigger it. It causes itchy red skin which can even lead to skin infections if not treated properly.
What causes jock itch?
Jock itch is caused by a fungus known as Trichophyton rubrum, which also causes athlete’s foot. It is typical for this fungal infection to spread from the feet to the groin as the fungus can travel on your towel or your hands.
- Heavy sweating is one of the main causes of jock itch.
- Wearing tight undergarments can cause jock itch. When the area around the groin does not get proper air circulation, it remains moist and warm which are ideal conditions for the fungal infection to spread.
- Fungal infection can spread easily through skin contact and other mediums like shared clothes and towels.
- Overweight people are more prone to jock itch as the fungus thrives in the folds of the skin which are likely to sweat more.
- Jock itch can also be triggered by friction from clothes.
- Having a weakened immune system can lead to fungal infections like jock itch
- People with diabetes are more prone to jock itch.
Common symptoms of jock itch
Jock itch is often painful and itchy, though it is not so in every case. Several visual clues can help you identify this fungal infection.
- Red, scaly patches in the groin, anal area, and upper thighs not including the genitals
- Slightly raised red patches that may blister and ooze and have sharply defined borders
- Patches that are spreading with clearing in the center
- Abnormally dark or light skin that may be permanent
- Itching and burning in the groin, thigh and anal area
- Skin that is flaking peeling and cracking.
Making the diagnosis
Many different conditions like eczema, lice, scabies, and candidiasis can make the groin area itch. A doctor can diagnose jock itch by merely examining the area physically.
He may also scrape a bit of the affected skin and examine it under the microscope. Sometimes he may send the sample to a laboratory to identify the cause.
The doctor may also ask you about the kind of clothes you wear, the type of exercise you do and if you have any pets. This infection can easily reoccur if you do not remove the source of the infection.
You can treat jock itch at home with topical creams and ointments quite effectively. Many antifungal creams require a prescription, but there are some that you can buy over the counter.
These OTC antifungal ointments include tolnaftate (Tinactin), clotrimazole (Lotrimin), and miconazole (Micatin).
Apply any of these creams to the rash and at least two finger widths beyond it. Apply the cream or ointment twice a day for at least two weeks and one week after the rash is gone.
If the rash is very itchy and has blisters at the edge, you can also use a topical steroid like hydrocortisone. However, you should not use this steroid without consulting a health care provider.
If your jock itch is not responding to over-the-counter medications, your doctor may prescribe something stronger. He may prescribe topical medications like econazole (Ecoza) or oxiconazole (Oxistat).
Your doctor may also ask you to take oral medications like itraconazole (Sporanox) and fluconazole (Diflucan). These oral antifungal medicines can cause some side effects like upset stomach and headaches.
Some other basic practices of health care also help make these rashes better. These include –
- Keep the skin in your groin clean and dry. Use a separate towel to clean this area to prevent further infection.
- Don’t wear tight fitting clothes that rub and irritate the area. Wear loose-fitting underwear.
- Shower immediately after exercising to prevent sweat.
- Don’t scratch the rash.
- Wash your athletic supporters frequently.
- Don’t sit around in a wet bathing suit.
- Change your clothes and underwear daily.
- Avoid heavily perfumed washing powders and fabric softeners as they could irritate the skin.
- Treat any other fungal infection that you may have like athletes foot as it could make the problem reoccur.
- Try a home remedy.
Home remedies for jock itch
While many creams and ointments are available over the counter to treat jock itch, home remedies that use natural products can be equally effective. Here are some of the home remedies for jock itch –
Apple cider vinegar is an effective remedy for jock itch thanks to its anti-fungal properties. It can get rid of dermatophytes fungi, which cause this condition and prevent it from spreading further.
Mix 1/2 cup of ACV in two cups of warm water. Clean the affected area with antibacterial soap. Soak a clean cotton cloth in this mixture and place it over the affected area for 10 minutes.
Allow it to dry. Repeat this process three times a day for the next few weeks. You can also put this solution in a spray bottle and spray it on the area.
Cornstarch is a useful remedy for jock itch. It is derived from dried corn kernels and is the primary ingredient in baby powders. When you apply it on your skin, it helps the skin achieve a fresh, dry feeling.
It also soothes the burning and the pain that scratching the infected areas may have caused. Apply cornstarch on the affected area after cleaning and drying the area properly.
Use this two or three times a day as it helps absorb excess moisture from the area.
3. Aloe vera
Aloe vera has soothing and cooling properties, which help in reducing itching around the affected area. According to the University of Maryland Medical Centre, Aloe gel has antiseptic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, which are helpful in treating the jock itch.
Aloe vera contains a substance called glycoprotein, which helps reduce inflammation and speeds up the healing process.
Clean the affected area and apply fresh aloe gel on it two or three times a day.
4. Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil has powerful antifungal, antiseptic and germicide properties. Studies have shown that it can be used as a topical treatment for fungal wound infections (1).
Mix four drop of tea tree oil with one ounce of coconut oil and apply it on the area twice daily.
5. Lavender oil
Lavender oil is highly beneficial for the skin because of its antiseptic and antifungal properties (2). It heals wounds and prevents the formation of scar tissue.
Mix a few drops of lavender oil with a carrier oil, like coconut oil, and apply it to the infected area.
Derived from the flowers of marigold, calendula has natural antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Calendula ointment is extremely useful in accelerating wound healing and treating eczema.
Its soothing and calming effect also helps in treating jock itch.
7. Oatmeal and Epsom salt bath
Epsom salt is hygroscopic and antifungal. Oatmeal helps soothe and calm the skin. An oatmeal and Epsom salt bath thus helps in healing jock itch in a very relaxing manner.
Add one cup of Epsom salt and two cups of oatmeal in your bath water. Soak your body in the bath for 20 minutes and rinse with plain water.
8. Garlic and honey
Mince a few pods of garlic and mix it with raw, unfiltered honey to form a paste. Apply this paste on the infected skin for 15 minutes a day and wash thoroughly.
Tips to prevent jock itch
You can take several measures to prevent jock itch from reoccurring –
- Reduce sugar and carbs in your diet as they encourage fungal growth. Also, reduce your alcohol consumption. Instead, add more fruits and vegetables to your diet.
- Take a shower daily. Allow your groin to dry out completely before you put on your underwear and clothes.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes that are made up of cotton or material that keep your skin moisture free.
- Avoid sharing your clothes and towels.
- Use antifungal spray and powder to prevent infection.
Jock itch is a common problem among young boys and men who are physically active. Although it is troublesome and annoying, it can easily be treated at home.
Apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil, aloe vera are some of the natural products that can help heal this fungal infection.
There are also many over the counter lotions and powders available to treat jock itch. However, prevention is the best cure. So have daily showers, keep your groin dry and avoid sharing towels.