Jock itch (tinea cruris) is a form of ringworm. Ringworm is not a worm at all. It is a fungal infection of the outer layers of skin, hair, or nails. Fungi (plural of fungus) are present everywhere in our environment.
Ringworm of the skin appears as a rash with patches that may be red or peeling or that have bumps on the edges that look like blisters. The skin often is itchy, and the rash can spread quickly. You can have both jock itch and athlete's foot (tinea pedis) at the same time.
Jock itch is caused by a fungus. Fungi commonly grow on or in the top layer of skin. They may or may not cause an infection. Fungi grow best in warm, moist areas of the body such as the groin, inner thighs, and buttocks.
As the name suggests, jock itch mostly affects male athletes, but anyone can get it. Using public showers and locker rooms increases your chances of getting jock itch. Fungi grow best in the steamy rooms among damp towels, sweaty workout clothes, and wet floors. So it's not surprising that jock itch and athlete's foot often occur at the same time, since both are caused by fungi.
Symptoms of jock itch include the following:
Jock itch is annoying, but it usually is not serious. If you have had jock itch in the past, you may recognize the symptoms. Your doctor can tell if you have jock itch after asking questions about your symptoms and past health and by looking at your rash. Your doctor may scrape a little of the rash on a glass slide so that he or she can look at it under a microscope.
Most ringworm infections of the skin, such as jock itch, can be treated at home with antifungal creams and powders you can buy without a prescription. But have your doctor look at any infection that does not go away, is severe, or comes back. To treat jock itch, follow these steps:
You can help prevent jock itch by keeping your groin, inner thighs, and buttocks clean and dry. Dry off well after you exercise and shower. Try these other steps to prevent jock itch:
Other Works Consulted
Basler RSW (2006). Sports medicine dermatology. In JD Hall et al., eds., Sauer's Manual of Skin Diseases, 9th ed., pp. 449–458. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Habif TP, et al. (2005). Tinea of the groin (tinea cruris, jock itch). In Skin Disease: Diagnosis and Treatment, pp. 248–249. St. Louis: Mosby.
Hirschmann JV (2016). Fungal, bacterial, and viral infections of the skin. In EG Nabel et al., eds., Scientific American Medicine, chap. 52. Hamilton, ON: BC Decker. https://www.deckerip.com/decker/scientific-american-medicine/chapter/52/pdf. Accessed November 21, 2016.
Schieke SM, Garg A (2012). Superficial fungal infection. In LA Goldman et al., eds., Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine, 8th ed., vol. 2, pp. 2277–2301. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Wolff K, et al. (2005). Tinea cruris. In Fitzpatrick's Color Atlas and Synopsis of Clinical Dermatology, 5th ed., pp. 699–700. New York: McGraw-Hill.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineMartin J. Gabica, MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerDavid Messenger, MD
Current as ofJanuary 10, 2017
Current as of: January 10, 2017
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
& Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & David Messenger, MD
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2017 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.