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Jock itch is a fungal infection that can cause redness and itching of the groin or inner thighs. Home remedies and prescription medications can help ease symptoms and prevent the infection from spreading.

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Getty Images/Patrik Giardino

Tinea cruris, most commonly known as jock itch, is a fungal infection of the skin.

It belongs to a group of fungal skin infections called tinea. As in other tinea infections, mold-like fungi known as dermatophytes cause jock itch. These microscopic fungi live on your skin, hair, and nails.

They’re typically harmless, but they can multiply quickly and cause infections when they’re allowed to thrive in warm, moist areas. That’s why jock itch usually develops in the skin around the groin, inner thighs, and buttocks.

Jock itch is most common in people assigned male at birth, particularly adolescents. The infection causes a rash that often itches or burns. On light skin, the affected areas can also appear red, flaky, or scaly. On darker skin, the rash might appear gray or brown.

Though jock itch can be bothersome, it’s typically a mild infection. Treating it quickly will minimize symptoms and keep it from spreading.

Most people find relief simply by applying topical antifungal medications and by keeping the affected area clean and dry.

Home remedies for jock itch

In most cases, you can treat jock itch using several at-home products. You can try the following remedies to get rid of the infection:

  • Apply an over-the-counter (OTC) antifungal cream, powder, or spray to the affected area.
  • Wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and warm water.
  • Dry the affected area thoroughly after bathing and exercise.
  • Change clothes and undergarments every day.
  • Wear loose cotton clothing.
  • Treat any other fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot.

Prescribed treatments for jock itch

If you take OTC medications or use home remedies for jock itch and symptoms don’t improve, a healthcare professional may prescribe something stronger. Possible options include topical or oral medications.

Topical medications include econazole (Ecoza) or oxiconazole (Oxistat), while oral medications include itraconazole (Sporanox) or fluconazole (Diflucan).

Oral antifungal medications may cause unpleasant side effects, such as upset stomach and headaches. If you experience any of these side effects, be sure to discuss them with a doctor.

Common symptoms of jock itch in the affected area include:

  • redness
  • persistent itching
  • burning sensation
  • flaking, peeling, or cracking skin
  • rash that gets worse with exercise or activity
  • changes in skin color
  • rash that doesn’t improve, worsens, or spreads after using OTC hydrocortisone (anti-itch) cream

Jock itch typically affects the groin and inner thighs. It may spread to the abdomen and buttocks, but it usually doesn’t develop on the scrotum.

A group of fungi called dermatophytes cause jock itch. These fungi naturally live on your skin and typically don’t cause problems. However, when you remain in sweat-soaked clothes after exercising, prolonged exposure to moisture can allow the fungi to multiply quickly.

When you have an overgrowth of dermatophytes in your groin area, it causes the infection known as jock itch.

The fungus that causes jock itch is highly contagious. You may get the fungal infection through close personal contact with a person who has jock itch or through contact with that person’s unwashed clothing.

Risk factors for jock itch

If the following factors apply to you, you might have a higher risk of jock itch:

  • You’re male.
  • You’re a teenager.
  • You have overweight or live with obesity, which increases how many skin folds you have. The fungi that cause jock itch thrive in sweaty skin folds.
  • You have a tendency to sweat, which increases the moisture of the skin and encourages dermatophytes to multiply.
  • Your immune system doesn’t function as it should due to an underlying health condition or treatment for a condition. People who are immunocompromised have a higher risk of fungal infections like jock itch than those whose immune systems work at full capacity.
  • You wear a lot of tight clothes.
  • You live with diabetes, which can increase your risk for fungal skin infections.

Do only athletes get jock itch?

The term “jock itch” may give the impression that only athletes develop the infection, but it can happen to anyone. Those who have overweight are more likely to experience jock itch because the fungus can thrive in folds of skin, which are prone to sweating.

As a preventive measure, it’s important to wash with soap and water in your groin and armpit areas daily. Prolonged exposure to moisture and friction from clothes can also trigger jock itch.

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Your doctor will likely be able to diagnose jock itch by performing a physical exam and inspecting the affected area of skin.

In some cases, your doctor may take some scrapings of skin cells from the area to help diagnose the condition. This may also help rule out other skin disorders, such as psoriasis.

There are several ways to reduce your risk for jock itch, including:

  • Practice good hygiene. Regular hand washing can greatly reduce your risk of getting this infection from someone else. It’s also important to keep your skin clean and dry, especially the area around your groin.
  • Wash the area regularly with soap, and dry the area thoroughly after bathing. Applying baby powder around your groin can also be helpful for preventing excess moisture.
  • Avoid tight-fitting clothing. Tight clothes can rub or chafe your skin, which can make you more susceptible to jock itch. You may want to try wearing boxer shorts instead of boxer briefs.
  • Wear loose clothing in hot or humid weather. Loose clothing can prevent sweating and the warm, moist environment in which fungus thrives. Make sure you wash any workout clothes or athletic supporters after each use.
  • If you have athlete’s foot, seek treatment quickly. The same fungi that cause jock itch can also cause athlete’s foot, and vice versa. You can avoid spreading it to your groin area by making sure you don’t use the same towel on both your feet and your groin.

If your symptoms don’t improve after 2 weeks of home treatments, you should make an appointment to see your doctor. You may have developed a secondary infection that needs prompt treatment.

If you don’t already have a dermatologist, you can browse doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool.

Jock itch is a contagious fungal skin infection that develops in skin folds like the armpits and buttocks.

The fungi that cause it, called dermatophytes, already live on your skin. But they can cause a skin infection if you wear sweat-soaked clothes for too long after physical exertion.

It’s most common in males, teens, and folks who have overweight, as well as those with less active immune systems or diabetes.

The infection is usually mild, and you can treat it at home by applying OTC creams, regularly cleaning the area, and maintaining good hygiene.

If symptoms don’t improve after 2 weeks of home remedies, consult a healthcare professional. A doctor may prescribe stronger medications for severe or stubborn jock itch.