What is Jock Itch?

“The question "What is Jock Itch" is on the mind of many men that experience an uncomfortable itch and rash in the groin and inner thigh. The root cause of the problem is a fungus called tinea cruris, which you may also know by the name ringworm. Interestingly, your body normally plays host to various bacteria and fungi. Some are useful to the body. Others however, grow out of control, and may cause infections. Tinea cruris loves warm, moist locations and may also be triggered by the friction of clothing and sweating in the groin area. Often the infection spreads form the person's feet (athletes foot). If it goes untreated, the ringworm rash will spread over a larger body area.  Jock itch is contagious and is seen in men and women.” 

jock itch picturesJock itch is a fungal infection found in the groin.
Source of Pictures of Jock Itch: Wikimedia Commons

Causes of Jock Itch

The causes of jock itch are legion and may include the following:

  • Excessive sweating in groin area
  • Friction from clothing
  • Lichen simplex chronicus
  • Eczema
  • Chemical irritation
  • Pubic lice
  • Ringworm
  • Shaving body hair in the groin location
  • Using body sprays or colognes in the groin area
  • Scabies

The odds of getting jock itch increases if you:

  • Live in tropical or warm areas
  • Sweat a lot
  • Participate in sports and are athletic, break a sweat
  • Share towels, clothes
  • Overweight
  • Suffer form diabetes
  • User a locker room and don't wash after working out

What is Jock Itch Symptoms and Treatment

Dr. Will Kirby diagnoses Jock Itch

Symptoms: What Does Jock Itch Look Like?

jock itch in women picturesJock Itch in Women Pictures

The first signal that you may have jock itch will be the annoying and distracting itch itself. Your symptoms may include:

  • A red, itchy area in a skin fold. It is red or brown, scaly (often first sign, starts usually opposite the scrotum if in a man).
  • Spreading rash that looks like bumpy red bites with sharp borders. Usually spreads form the skin fold to the groin and then on to the inner thigh, buttocks and waist.
  • Borders may have minuscule pimples or pustules.
  • Central area of rash may be red, dry and flaky, featuring small scales.
  • Severe scratching will usually invite a yeast infection which will make the rash even redder and wetter.
  •  Jock itch may involve the tip of the penis, if opportunistic yeast invades.
  • The itch may be in the groin area, skin folds of the thighs and/or the anus.
  • The skin where the rash is will be either abnormally light or dark.

Jock itch usually is not seen on the scrotum itself, just on the thighs, pubic region and then the buttocks.

what is jock itchJock Itch on Thigh
Source: The Drs


In order to accurately diagnose jock itch, the doctor will need to do a complete exam. It’s not just a matter of looking at the groin area, as there may be other things going on at the same time that are causing the groin itch. Typically, the physician will try a Jock Itch treatment, to see if your rash responds. If it does, all is well. If it does not, a complete medical history needs to be done, along with lab tests.

Lab tests may include taking a close look at the skin under a Wood’s lamp (long wave ultraviolet light), taking skin scrapings to examine under a microscope, fungal cultures and blood sugar levels and a complete blood count. Often rashes have other sources, despite the fact that they “may” look like jock itch.

The doctor will also want to know your HIV status, your sexual history, sports activities, frequency of swimming, travel to foreign locations, medication history (past and current) and a thorough look at all other areas on your body where a rash may originate – under the breasts, armpits, elbows, feet, waist, groin and anus. They will also want to know what, if anything, you have done at home to treat the jock itch.

Differential Diagnosis

Conditions that need to be ruled out when diagnosing Jock Itch include:

  • Psoriasis
  • Seborrheic dermatitis
  • Intertrigo (rash under the scrotum caused by candida or yeast. In some cases it is caused by bacteria)

Scabies or Jock Itch

scabies or jock itchScabies (Top) or Jock Itch (bottom). Scabies looks like a tunnel where a mite has burrowed into the skin. Jock itch is a rash with distinct borders.

Scabies are caused by a burrowing mite. The mites are not visible to the naked eye and can cause symptoms that can last for months or years. Scabies cause blisters and red bumps and can be seen in the genital area. The bumps will look like tiny thread like projections that are called tunnels or burrows.

Jock itch is caused by a fungal infection. It causes round rings in areas of the body where there is heat and moisture. 

Treatment and Remedies

The easy way to cure jock itch is to try an over the counter treatment creams formulated to get rid of the condition:

  • Lotrimin AF is a Jock Itch cream that contains clotrimazole 1%, which fights fungus and can help to prevent infection. Use the cream liberally and make sure to rub it into the skin per the manufacturers directions.  Do not use products that are made for athletes foot.

  • 1% hydrocortisone cream combined with zinc oxide (diaper rash cream) – for non-infected jock itch.

For severe infections, the doctor may prescribe Itraconazole or Fluconazole; drugs you may know as Sporanox and Diflucan. Be cautious of side-effects with these drugs. Bacterial infections will need oral antibiotics, such as erythromycin.

Also keep the groin area dry with powder (antifungal or talcum).

Avoid tight fitting clothing and hot baths. Men should wear loose fitting under garments such as boxers.  Women with jock itch should wear cotton underwear and loose fitting pants.

Treatment is needed for 3 to 4 weeks in order to achieve a cure.


Prevention involves keeping the groin clean and dry. Tips include:

  • Use a talcum or anti-fungal powder to keep the skin dry.  
  • Wearing loose fitting cotton underwear.
  • Use a blow dryer (low setting) to dry the groin after it becomes wet
  • Wear slippers or sandals in locker rooms
  • Shower after any sport that calls for skin to skin contact
  • If you have athlete's foot, put your socks on before your underwear so that the infection does not spread from feet to groin
  • Get dogs and cats treated if it has any patches of missing hair which could indicate a case of ringworm.

Learn From These Brochures




Mens Health Magazine

Verma S and Heffernan MP. “Superficial fungal infections.” In: Wolff K, Goldsmith LA, et al. Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology in General Medicine (seventh edition). McGraw Hill Medical, New York, 2008: 1807-16.


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