Jock Itch

Athlete with jock itch

Jock itch is an embarrassing health issue that usually affects athletes.

Jock itch is known by many other names including crotch itch, crotch rot, eczema marginatum, gym itch, groin ringworm, jock rot and tinea cruris.

At it’s most basic level, tinea cruris is an inflammatory skin condition of the groin.

Typical symptoms are skin tenderness of the groin area, a burning, itching sensation of the inner thigh and a discomfort that simply does not allow the athlete to fully participate in their chosen sport or activity.

Gym itch is caused by organisms known as dermophytes.  Dermophytes are fungi which keratin in order to grow and thrive.  Keratin is found in skin, hair and nails.

Due to their need for keratin, dermophytic fungi tend to cause superficial (surface level) infections of the skin, hair and nails.  Infections caused by fungi are known as mycotic infections.

There are three dermophytes that cause these infections; Trichophyton, Epidermophyton and Microsporum.  The most common cause of tinea cruris is T. rubrum.

These infections were previously thought to be caused by a worm known as ringworm.  Infections caused by ringworm were called tinea.  Cruris from a medical perspective refers to the groin and perineum.  Therefore, the other name for jock itch, tinea cruris, refers to a fungal skin infection of the groin area.

Tinea infections are one of the most common skin conditions around the globe.  10% to 20% of the population will be affected by a tinea infection at some point in their lives.

These infections are contagious.  They are spread by direct, skin-to-skin contact.  Spread of these infections can happen from human to human and even from human to animal and animal to human.

If you have diabetes or you are overweight you are more prone to getting a jock itch infection.

The first sign of a tinea cruris infection is usually large, red patches or rings in the groin area.  These areas tend to itch and burn.

Tinea Cruris or Jock Itch

Treatments for tinea cruris include:

  • non-prescription (OTC) topical antifungal creams, ointments or sprays (tolnaftate 1%,  clotrimazole 1%,  miconazole 2%)
  • prescription topical antifungals (terbinafine 1%, ketoconazole 2%)
  • oral antifungal medications (terbinafine, itraconazole, fluconazole, griseofulvin)
  • keeping the affected area cool and dry (fungi like moist, warm environments)
  • avoid rubbing or scratching the affected areas
  • avoid sharing towels or clothing

It is important to know that nystatin is ineffective in treating jock itch.

You may also wish to learn about other embarrassing health issues.  To learn about other health issues visit our Conditions page.