Jock itch is a contagious fungal infection that causes different itchy skin problems in your groin area. An itchy, stinging, burning rash forms on infected skin. Treatments can stop the fungus from spreading and clear it up.
Jock itch is a common fungal (caused by a fungus) infection similar to ringworm. Jock itch causes an itchy, stinging, burning rash on the skin around your groin, inner thighs and butt crack (gluteal cleft). Tinea cruris is another name for jock itch. Tinea is another name for ringworm, and cruris means groin.
With this infection, your skin may become scaly and cracked or develop bumps or blisters.
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Jock itch can affect the skin around your groin, inner thighs and butt crack. Your skin may appear irritated (red, purple, gray, tan or white), scaly or flaky. Your skin may also develop small bumps or blisters.
Jock itch affects everyone. However, adolescent and young adult men get jock itch most often. It’s uncommon in women. Men are three times more likely to get jock itch than women. It’s rare in children.
You may be more likely to develop jock itch if you have:
Women can get jock itch. However, it’s not common. In women, jock itch affects the skin around the groin, inner thighs and butt crack. It rarely affects the vulva (genitals).
Jock itch commonly affects the skin around your groin, inner thighs and butt crack. It rarely affects your genitals (penis, scrotum or vulva).
Your skin may develop an itchy rash. Your skin may change color, crack, peel or flake. Sometimes, tiny bumps or blisters may appear along the edge of your rash.
Jock itch can burn and itch. Your skin may appear irritated and change colors. It can also appear scaly or flaky. The rash may look like a ring, and the outside of the rash may have small bumps or blisters.
A fungus causes jock itch. A jock itch rash is ringworm. Ringworm can look like circles. But an actual worm doesn’t cause ringworm.
Jock itch is contagious. Jock itch is a fungus that grows on or in your skin. Fungi (plural form of fungus) need warm temperatures and moisture to grow. Tight underwear or pants trap heat and moisture around your groin. Heat and moisture create the perfect environment for jock itch to grow.
Jock itch commonly spreads through skin-to-skin contact or contact with an infected surface. You can get jock itch through sexual contact with an infected person. You can also get jock itch by sharing towels or clothing with an infected person.
In some cases, you can get jock itch if you have athlete’s foot (tinea pedis). You can spread the fungus by touching your groin after touching your infected foot. You can also spread the fungus from your feet to your groin through your clothing. When getting dressed, it’s a good idea to put on your socks before your underwear to prevent spreading the fungus from your feet to your groin.
Your healthcare provider can typically diagnose jock itch by examining your groin and reviewing symptoms.
In some cases, your healthcare provider may remove a small piece of skin (biopsy) and test it in a lab. Several drops of a potassium hydroxide (KOH) solution dissolve the skin cells so that only fungal cells are visible.
Jock itch doesn’t typically go away on its own. If it’s left untreated, it can spread to other areas of your body, including your:
It’s important to finish your full course of medicine. If you stop too soon, your jock itch may come back and be harder to treat.
The fastest way to cure jock itch is to use an OTC or prescription antifungal cream, ointment, gel, spray or powder. In more serious cases, your healthcare provider may prescribe antifungal pills to treat jock itch.
For faster recovery, it’s also important to keep the area clean, dry and cool.
Rubbing alcohol may help cure mild jock itch. Rubbing alcohol can prevent or stop fungal growth on the surface of your skin. However, rubbing alcohol can make your skin dry and tight, and it can make irritation worse.
In addition to rubbing alcohol, a few home remedies may help prevent or treat jock itch.
Some essential oils can prevent or stop the growth of bacteria. These include tea tree, bitter orange, peppermint and eucalyptus oils. However, they may not completely get rid of a fungal infection.
Garlic contains a compound called ajoene. Ajoene can prevent or stop the growth of bacteria. But, like essential oils, it may not completely get rid of a fungal infection.
If you’re allergic to essential oils or garlic, don’t use them to treat your jock itch.
Keep your groin dry, clean and cool. Use a powder or spray to absorb moisture around your groin, particularly after bathing or working out. Avoid wearing tight underwear or pants. Avoid scratching your groin. Scratching your groin may cause the fungus to spread to other parts of your body.
With proper diagnosis and treatment, your jock itch should go away in one to eight weeks. And, be sure to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions.
It’s also important to finish your full course of medicine. During the early healing stages, itchiness and irritation will fade. Even if your symptoms go away, you may still have jock itch. If you don’t finish your full course of medicine, your jock itch can come back and be harder to treat.
There are many ways to reduce your risk of getting jock itch:
If you have athlete’s foot or another type of fungus, there are many ways to prevent yourself from getting jock itch:
With proper treatment, the outlook for people with jock itch is good. Be sure to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions so that you get rid of your jock itch quickly and don’t pass it on to anyone else.
Call your healthcare provider if your jock itch:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Jock itch is an unpleasant condition. It’s itchy and annoying. It can also sting or burn. However, antifungal medications or home remedies will help you get rid of jock itch. Be sure you don’t scratch your groin, as it can spread the fungus to other parts of your body. It’s important to follow your healthcare provider’s treatment plan, too. If you don’t finish your full course of medicine, jock itch can come back. Ask your healthcare provider how you can keep jock itch from spreading to other parts of your body or other people.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/01/2021.
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