What is jock itch?

What’s as easy to catch as athlete’s foot, but can be much more uncomfortable? It’s jock itch, also known as tinea cruris: a fungal infection caused by a group of fungi called dermatophytes.

It is a skin infection that affects your groin area: genitals, inner and upper thighs and buttocks. Jock itch causes a red, itchy, often ring-shaped rash that appears on your skin. Because dermatophytes spread so easily through scratching, if you have athlete’s foot or fungal nail infection you are more at risk of catching jock itch too. Normally, dermatophytes live harmlessly on your skin, hair and nails, but they can multiply quickly and cause infection when there is a warm and moist environment, for example if you remain in sweat-soaked clothes.

Jock itch mostly affects men and adolescent boys because moisture can get trapped between the scrotum and thigh. As the name suggests, it often appears in athletes too because they sweat a lot and wear tight and wet clothes for long periods of time. If you are overweight, you are more likely to experience jock itch because the fungus can thrive in folds of skin, which are prone to sweating. But jock itch can affect anyone because it is highly contagious. You can get it through close contact with an infected person but also through contaminated towels, clothes and your hands if you touch other infected areas like your foot.

Typical causes of jock itch:

  • wearing clothes that are tight and irritate your skin,

  • having moisture in your groin area from sweating,

  • leaving on a wet bathing suit for a long time,

  • sharing damp towels or sweaty clothing,

  • being in close contact with someone infected.

Symptoms of jock itch

Mature man in grey longsleeve smiling and standing upright, happy after Canesten jock itch treatment

Jock itch prevention

Practicing good hygiene can help prevent jock itch. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly after contact with someone infected, after touching infected area like athlete’s foot or after applying treatment. Athlete’s foot is caused by the same fungi that cause jock itch, so if you have it, you should treat it quickly to prevent it from spreading to your groin area.

Other tips include: