Jock itch happens when a specific species of fungus builds up on the skin, growing out of control and causing inflammation. It’s also called tinea cruris.

Common symptoms of jock itch include:

Most cases of jock itch are mild and easily treated.

But there are some activities and “treatments” that can make jock itch symptoms last longer. Let’s dive into what can make jock itch worse, how to tell jock itch apart from other similar conditions, and how to successfully treat jock itch.

There are a few things you might do that unintentionally make your jock itch worse. Here are some examples:

  • Working out. This can cause the infected skin to chafe against nearby skin or with clothing and irritate it, making the skin more susceptible to a worsening infection.
  • Having poor hygiene habits. Using improperly cleaned, damp towels or clothing, and not keeping skin dry may promote infection.
  • Using the wrong treatment. Spreading an anti-itch cream, such as hydrocortisone, on the infected area won’t treat the infection — it can actually worsen it. This can increase the area of the infection or make the infection worse.
  • Having a weakened immune system. Taking immunosuppressants for autoimmune disorders or having a weakened immune system from medication or conditions like HIV can make it harder for your body to fight off fungal infections.

Some conditions look like jock itch, but they aren’t, so they won’t respond to typical tinea cruris treatment.

Inverse psoriasis

Inverse psoriasis is a type of psoriasis, an autoimmune condition, that may have a genetic basis.

Like jock itch, it tends to appear in the same areas where you skin chafes, like your groin or inner thighs. Some common treatments for inverse psoriasis include:

Yeast infection (thrush)

Yeast infections are a similar type of fungal infection caused by the fungus Candida.

They’re more common in people with vulvas, but they can also affect the penis from the head and shaft to the scrotum and the nearby groin skin.

Common treatments for yeast infections include:

  • antifungal topicals like nystatin or clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF)
  • oral antifungal medications, for more severe cases

With early and proper treatment, jock itch should go away within about a month.

Here are some signs that your jock itch is going away:

  • rash or redness begins to fade away
  • skin regains its usual color
  • symptoms like itchiness or irritation start to subside

Got an especially severe or resistant case of groin itching? Here’s what you should do if over-the-counter (OTC) topical treatments don’t work.

Take antifungal medication

A doctor may prescribe medication for severe jock itch. Here are some of the options:

  • oral medications like fluconazole (Diflucan) or itraconazole (Sporanox)
  • topicals like oxiconazole (Oxistat) or econazole (Ecoza)

Use an antifungal shampoo

Medicated shampoos that contain ketoconazole or selenium sulfide are a good, strong treatment for jock itch symptoms. They’re available by prescription from your doctor or over the counter.

They don’t typically have side effects, and OTC versions are easy to buy at most drugstores.

See a doctor if you’ve used OTC treatments but haven’t seen any improvements in your symptoms after 2 weeks.

A doctor may be able to prescribe you a medication that can help, or they can evaluate you for another type of skin disorder that can mimic jock itch.

Here are some tips for preventing jock itch:

  • Wash your hands regularly. This is especially important when you touch other people or are about to eat with your hands.
  • Keep the moist areas of your body clean and dry. This is especially important for areas around your groin and upper thighs.
  • Bathe at least once a day. Make sure to use gentle, unscented soap and dry off completely before putting clothes on. Bathe more than once a day if you’re active or sweat profusely throughout the day.
  • Don’t wear tight clothing. It can trap moisture and cause skin to chafe.
  • Wear loose-fitting cotton underwear. It’ll let your groin and thighs ventilate, especially if you live in a humid climate.
  • Wash your workout clothes or any equipment your body touches after a sweaty workout.
  • Have athlete’s foot? Don’t use the same towel on your feet and other areas of your body. Athlete’s foot and jock itch are both caused by tinea fungi and can spread to one another. Treating athlete’s foot is important for preventing jock itch.

Jock itch is typically easy to treat, but it can often come back.

Practice healthy hygiene habits to help prevent jock itch. Treat it early with OTC topicals when you first notice symptoms. If it doesn’t go away after a few weeks, see a doctor.