Jock itch refers to any itchy groin rash in person, usually athletes. Jock itch is not a general medical term. There are many causes for jock itch. The most common is a fungal infection of the skin. When jock itch is caused by fungus, the rash is also known as tinea cruris. The fungus causing tinea cruris is a microscopic organism (plant) that grows in the outer skin layers and prefers moisture and warmth. When the fungus affects the feet, it is known as “athlete’s foot” (tinea pedis). When the rash affects other parts of the body, it is known as tinea corporis (corporis is Latin for body).
Fortunately, tinea cruris is not contagious. Direct person-to-person spreading is not a problem. The patient’s own case of athlete’s foot is usually the source of the jock itch infection. As persons with athlete’s foot or fungus of the feet put their pants on, their feet hit the crotch area as the foot slides down the pant leg. When the foot hits the crotch area, it deposits microscopic spores in the groin area of clothing. This is how athlete’s foot can cause jock itch.
Tinea cruris is treated with antifungal medicines. If it is a topical medicine, it is usually applied thinly twice per day. To prevent recurrence, continue to apply the antifungal medicine for two to four weeks after the rash has cleared. Apply nothing else to your groin except water and a gentle nondetergent cleanser. Tinea cruris usually clears promptly with a topical antifungal medicine. If it doesn’t, you may need a one- to two-week course with an oral (pill by mouth) antifungal medicine. Tinea cruris is the main but not only cause of groin itching. If the rash is not improved, please return for further evaluation.
Tinea cruris often recurs. Warmth and moisture encourage the fungus to grow. You can prevent recurrences by drying off thoroughly after bathing, wear loose cotton underwear, and dusting bland powder in your groin once or twice daily. After swimming, put on dry clothing right away; do not wear a wet swimsuit for an extended period of time. The most important factor in preventing tinea cruris is to make sure that you do not develop a fungal infection of the feet or toenails. Dr. Crutchfield will carefully evaluate your condition and design an appropriate treatment program.