Tinea cruris, otherwise known as jock itch, is a contagious fungal infection of the groin. Tinea is most commonly affected in the areas of feet, groin, scalp, and beneath the breasts.
Some types of fungi are commonly found on human skin. They usually do no harm. However, if conditions are right they can ‘invade’ the skin, multiply, and cause infection. The conditions fungi like best are warm, moist, and airless areas of skin, such as the groin.
Here typically, the groin becomes itchy and irritable, mainly in the crease between the top of the leg and the genitals. It is more common in men, and the scrotum may also be itchy. A red rash then develops in the groin, usually with a definite edge or border. Both groins are commonly affected. The rash often spreads a short way down the inside of both thighs.
Treatment with an antifungal cream usually works well. But good general hygiene is vital in order to prevent tinea cruris. Wash every day and dry your skin carefully. Change clothes daily, especially underwear.
You can buy an antifungal cream from pharmacies or get one on prescription. There are various types and brands – for example, terbinafine, clotrimazole, econazole, ketoconazole, miconazole, and sulconazole. These modern creams are good at clearing fungal skin infections. Apply the cream to the surrounding 4-6 cm of normal skin in addition to the rash.
An antifungal medicine taken by mouth is sometimes prescribed if the infection is widespread or severe – for example, terbinafine, griseofulvin, or itraconazole tablets.
- Wash your groin daily; then dry thoroughly. Drying is perhaps the most important point. It is easy to put on underwear when your groin is not quite dry. The damp groin is then an ideal site for fungi to multiply. After washing, dry the skin thoroughly, particularly between the toes and within skin folds.
- Change underwear daily. Fungi may multiply in flakes of skin in unwashed underwear.
- Check for athlete’s foot and treat it if you have it. Athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection of the toes. In a typical case of athlete’s foot, the skin between the toes is itchy and flaky – especially between the outer two toes. The fungi from athlete’s foot may spread to the groin. The same creams are used to treat athlete’s foot and fungal groin infection.
- Do not share towels with people in communal changing rooms. Wash towels frequently.
Jock itch usually responds promptly to treatment. It is often less severe than other tinea infections, such as athlete’s foot, but may last a long time.
Other causes of itching in the groin include lichen simplex chronicus, eczema, pubic lice, chemical irritation, and inverse psoriasis (psoraisis that affects the skin folds)
Call your doctor if jock itch does not respond to home care after 2 weeks or you have other symptoms.
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