Redness and itching are common symptoms of several conditions. If you’ve got redness and itching in the groin area, thighs, or buttocks, it might be caused by inverse psoriasis or jock itch.

The symptoms for inverse psoriasis and jock itch are similar, but there are a few key differences. Keep reading to learn more about these two conditions, including their risk factors and treatment options.

Inverse psoriasis is an unusual form of psoriasis. Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease caused at least partly by genetics. An autoimmune disease can develop when your body’s immune system views your healthy cells as foreign objects. The body begins to attack these cells as a defense against a perceived threat.

Inverse psoriasis appears in areas where skin rubs against skin, including the groin, armpits, or inner thigh regions. A 2011 review estimates 3 to 7 percent of people with psoriasis have inverse psoriasis.

Jock itch is the common name for a fungal infection called Tinea cruris. It may occur in the groin area, thighs, or buttocks. Unlike psoriasis — which has a more complex cause — doctors know fungi called dermatophytes cause jock itch. These fungi are similar to those that lead to ringworm.

Psoriasis comes in different forms. The most common skin symptoms include raised, red patches of skin that are occasionally paired with a silvery scale. Itching or bleeding may also occur.

These skin patches, also known as plaques, can show up anywhere on your body. Plaque psoriasis commonly appears on the:

  • elbows
  • knees
  • lower back
  • buttocks
  • scalp

Inverse psoriasis most often shows up in folded areas of the body, or wherever skin touches skin, says Aleksandr Itkin, MD, FAAD, a dermatologist at Scripps Clinic in San Diego, California. According to Itkin, this type of psoriasis is often mistaken for fungal infections such as jock itch. This is because of its common appearance in the groin area.

Jock itch can also cause redness in the groin area, as well as itching, burning, and overall irritation. You may also see scaling, which can appear on the thighs or buttocks.

How do you tell the difference? According to Itkin, one of the main ways doctors can tell the difference is by looking at what’s called “demarcation.”

Fungal infections usually cause fine elevated scales at the leading reddish edge of the lesion. The center of the lesion becomes brownish. It may also become less red and scaly.

Inverse psoriasis usually doesn’t have this scale. If it does, it’s probably more evenly distributed over the patch of skin. Inverse psoriasis will look more evenly red than jock itch because of this.

If someone in your family has psoriasis, your chances of having it increase. Obesity, smoking, and stress can also increase your risk of triggering the disease.

Being overweight is also a risk factor for jock itch because the fungus can live in skin folds. The fungus multiplies in warm, moist places. People who sweat more, such as athletes, are also more likely to develop jock itch.

There’s no permanent cure for psoriasis. Treatments focus on managing your symptoms. They can include:

Since these treatments are treating the symptoms and not the condition, symptoms may return later, especially if you stop treatment.

You can usually treat jock itch with topical creams and oral medications. Some of these medications are available over the counter at your local drugstore.

Good personal hygiene can prevent future cases of jock itch or other fungal infections. Change your undergarments if they become saturated with sweat or water. Shower immediately after participating in any sports.

Make an appointment with your doctor if your symptoms last longer than 10 days. This is especially true if your symptoms worsen or don’t respond to an over-the-counter fungal treatment. Getting an accurate diagnosis is the best way to start feeling better faster.

Psoriasis and genes

  • Approximately one-third of people who have psoriasis also have a family member with the condition, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation.