What is jock itch?
Jock itch is quite common and can be a literal pain in the ass (and groin and inner thighs). The dermatophyte fungus which is most often responsible for jock itch, tinea cruris, aka: ringworm, loves warm, dark, moist places. It gets its name due to being beyond common in athletes, as sweating and friction are synonymous.
What causes jock itch?
Jock itch usually manifests from excess moisture and, because of this, it is more common during warmer months or periods of sweating. Another potential irritant, which many people aren’t aware of, is the use of baby wipes in the area.
Fungus is quite common, living on the surface of your skin, inside your gastrointestinal tract, and, for women, in the vagina. Normal levels do not cause problems, but overgrowths can cause infections in many places, including your mouth, throat, vagina, head of penis, and anus.
What are the symptoms of jock itch?
Many times, they present intense, persistent itching and redness in the region (known as “pruritus ani”), along with scaly, patchy discolorations, which can go all the way up the crack. Regardless of its origins, jock itch can lead to symptoms beyond itching, some of which can be severe and uncomfortable:
•Red, irritated skin
•Soreness, bleeding, or pain (from repeated scratching/rubbing)
•Prevention & treatment for jock itch
The first key to preventing jock itch is limiting your exposure, which can occur during skin-to-skin contact with your partner or via infected items that come in direct contact with your skin, such as sports cups, damp clothing, or towels.
The second key to reducing your risk of developing jock itch is better genital hygiene and keeping everything in the area dry. Here are a handful of easy at home changes that can be implemented first, to see if the issue goes away:
1) Night time showering with antibacterial soap.
2) Completely dry off the region after showing; a hair blower is preferred.
3) Aeration is key, as often as you can. When you’re at home and at night, letting it all hang out should help clear things up.
4) Make sure to change your sheets and towels more frequently than you normally do and the same goes for your underwear. If they are old and stretched out, purchase newer pairs. Also, choose your bedding and garments carefully, as they should be appropriate for your climate.
5) Try to shower right after exercising. Some people also wear jockstraps or Dri Fit garments to help reduce friction and moisture buildup. If you don’t have time to shower post-workout, then at least change into a fresh pair of underwear.
6) Your go-to should be over-the-counter Lotrimin (or the generic version, which is just as adequate). We advise the powdered spray, which not only is appropriately medicated, but also helps keep the area fully dry. You can use this twice a day for 7-10 days. If it resolves the issue, continue to follow all these steps to prevent a recurrence.
Treatment for jock itch
If you have followed the above suggestions and things continue to persist, then please schedule an appointment with us or another medical professional for further guidance. Sometimes it can be a difficult diagnosis to make, determining whether it’s bacterial or viral and not fungal. Or, if it was deemed fungal, it may require a more powerful cream that has to be prescribed, and sometimes even an oral anti-fungal pill for complete eradication.
Some OTC medications that may be prescribed include the following:
•Clotrimazole (Canesten, Lotrimin)
Stronger, prescription medications topical and oral antifungals include:
•Topical fungicidal allylamines
•Oral medical – Diflucan (Fluconazole)
•Topical fungistatic azoles
Everyone asks me about anal sex and a fungal infection. If symptoms are mild and you are undergoing treatment along with you feeling up for the task, by all means, engage. Just remember to use lubes that are less irritating and, if you’re using condoms, opt for non-latex kinds, which may also help in minimizing potential issues. And then, of course, please follow the steps outlined above post-sex to aid in healing.
If you’re experiencing rawness that is too irritating, I would refrain from anal play, as the friction (and all that comes with it) may actually make things worse, as well as it can be transmitted to your partner(s). Please adhere to the above protocol to assist in healing and once things take a turn for the better, anal sex can be reinstated.
To summarize, jock itch is not only painful and annoying, but also incredibly common. The key is to understand why it occurs and then analyze your behaviors to help minimize its occurrence.
This page was medically reviewed by Dr. Evan Goldstein on November 13, 2020.