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Infection - fungal - groin

IMar 09 05

Alternative names
Fungal infection - groin; Jock Itch; Itching in the groin; Ringworm - groin; Tinea cruris; Tinea of the groin

Definition
Jock itch, also called tinea cruris or ringworm of the groin, is an infection of the groin area caused by fungi.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The body normally hosts a variety of bacteria and fungi. Some of these are useful to the body. Others can multiply rapidly and form infections. Jock itch occurs when a particular type of fungus grows and multiplies in the groin area.

Jock itch occurs almost exclusively in adult men. It can sometimes accompany athlete’s foot and ringworm. The fungus that causes jock itch thrives in warm, moist areas. Jock itch can be triggered by friction from clothes and prolonged wetness in the groin area (such as from sweating).

Jock itch may be contagious. It can be passed from one person to the next by direct skin-to-skin contact or contact with unwashed clothing. Jock itch usually stays around the creases in the upper thigh and does not involve the scrotum or penis. It is often less severe than other tinea infections, but may last a long time. Jock itch may spread to the anus, causing anal itching and discomfort.

Other causes of itching in the groin include:

     
  • lichen simplex chronicus  
  • eczema  
  • pubic lice  
  • chemical irritation

For itching of the groin in women, see vaginal itching.

Symptoms

     
  • Itching in groin, thigh skin folds, or anus.  
  • Red, raised, scaly patches that may blister and ooze. The patches often have sharply-defined edges. They are often redder around the outside with normal skin tone in the center. This may create the appearance of a ring.  
  • Abnormally dark or light skin.

Signs and tests
Your doctor will usually diagnose jock itch based on the appearance of the skin. Tests are usually not necessary. If tests are needed to confirm the diagnosis, either a culture or a skin lesion biopsy (for example, a scraping of the skin) may show the fungus that causes jock itch.

Treatment

Jock itch usually responds to self-care within a couple of weeks:

     
  • Keep the skin clean and dry.  
  • Don’t wear clothing that rubs and irritates the area.  
  • Apply topical over-the-counter antifungal or drying powders, such as those that contain miconazole, clotrimazole, or tolnaftate.

Severe infections, frequently recurring infections, or infections lasting longer than two weeks may require further treatment by your doctor. Stronger prescription medications, such as those containing ketoconazole or terbinafine, or oral antifungals may be needed. Antibiotics may be needed to treat bacterial infections that occur in addition to the fungus (for example, from scratching the area).

Expectations (prognosis)
Jock itch usually responds promptly to treatment, but some cases last a long time.

Complications

     
  • Permanent change in the skin color of the area  
  • Secondary bacterial skin infections  
  • Side effects of medications

Calling your health care provider
Call your doctor if jock itch does not respond to home care after two weeks, or you have other symptoms.

Prevention

     
  • Keep the groin area clean and dry.  
  • Don’t wear clothing that rubs and irritates the area. Avoid tight-fitting and rough-textured clothing.  
  • Wear loose-fitting underwear.  
  • Wash athletic supporters frequently.  
  • After bathing, apply antifungal or drying powders if you are susceptible to jock itch.

 

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 4, 2007
by Amalia K. Gagarina, M.S., R.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.
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