Jock itch (tinea cruris) is a fungal infection that results from staying in sweat-soaked clothing too long. Fungus thrives in damp, warm locations with little light– and the groin often has all of these conditions. Technically, jock itch is a ringworm infection found in the groin and on the thighs, as opposed to tinea corporis, which is the ringworm infection that it typically found elsewhere on the body. Ringworm is not a worm at all, as stated above, it is a fungal infection.
Jock itch occurs most often in athletes, but can affect anyone. Individuals who are the most at-risk for getting jock itch are those who wear tight, sweaty clothing that doesn’t allow for moisture to dry out, as well as obese individuals who are prone to getting jock itch when their sweat is unable to evaporate from skinfolds.
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Symptoms of jock itch include:
Activity typically worsens jock itch. Symptoms can affect the groin, thighs, and lower abdomen, but usually the testicles are unaffected.
Often men are curious to find out whether or not they can spread jock itch to their partner or to women. The answer is, sometimes jock itch is contagious. Jock itch is mildly contagious and can be transferred via direct skin-to-skin contact (like during sex) or if someone wears the unclean clothing of an individual who has jock itch. Jock itch will not be spread to your wife or teammates via contact like high fives and such– the area infected with the fungus has to come into contact with an area with similar moist, dark conditions and it has to stay moist and dark there long enough for it to thrive.
It can be shocking to have an itching groin, especially when the itch is coming from a red rash that may or may not have peeling and the appearance of blistering on the edges of the rash. For these reasons, men with jock itch often confuse their condition for genital herpes. Jock itch tends to be more of a rash that may of may not have tiny blisters surrounding parts of its edges, whereas genital herpes blisters are typically fluid- filled and unaccompanied by a rash. Herpes blisters crust over after bursting and become painful sores, unlike jock itch. A doctor will be able to examine the infection and tell you whether or not it is jock itch or herpes.
Jock itch is curable with over-the-counter antifungal medications like lotions, powders and creams. It often takes 2-4 weeks to fully get rid of the fungus. Be sure to thoroughly sanitize any athletic clothing including cups, jock straps and towels. For cases that prove difficult to be rid of with over-the-counter methods, doctors may prescribe antifungal medication in the form of tablets.
Medically Reviewed by J. Frank Martin JR., MD on June 18, 2019Written by Alexa Amador on May 15, 2017