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Also known as Tinea cruris, jock itch is a growth of fungus in the warm, moist area of the groin.
Although there are many causes of jock itch, this term has become synonymous with tinea cruris, a common fungal infection that affects the groin and inner thighs of men and woman. Tinea is the name of the fungus; cruris comes from the Latin word for leg. Jock itch can develop when tight garments trap moisture and heat. This creates an environment in which fungi multiply and flourish. Athletes often get jock itch but non-athletic men who sweat a lot can also get it. Jock itch occurs more commonly in men, but can affect women as well. The jock itch fungus may cause a rash on the upper and inner thighs, the armpits, and the area just underneath the breasts. Many people with tinea cruris also have athlete's foot. Athlete's foot is called tinea pedis.
Causes & symptoms
The rash of jock itch starts in the groin fold usually on both sides. If the rash advances, it usually advances down the inner thigh. The advancing edge is redder and more raised than areas that have been infected longer. The advancing edge is usually scaly and very easily distinguished or well demarcated. The skin within the border turns a reddish-brown and loses much of its scale. Jock itch can spread to the pubic and genital regions and sometimes to the buttocks.
Jock itch caused by T. rubrum does not involve the scrotum or penis. If those areas are involved, the most likely agent is Candida albicans, the same type of yeast that causes vaginal yeast infections.
Often a case of jock itch can be identified based on the characteristic description previously described. If assessed by a conventional doctor, the area of affected skin may be scraped onto a glass slide for definitive diagnosis under the microscope. In order to determine the exact type of fungus present, a small piece of affected skin maybe sent off to the lab for further study.
Typical conventional treatment for jock itch involves the use of an anti-fungal cream, spray, or powder twice a day for about two weeks. Three commonly used, over-the-counter anti-fungals are miconazole (Micatin), clotrimazole (Lotrimin) and tolnaftate (Tinactin). While the tendency to discontinue treatment once itching disappears is common, it is important to use the anti-fungal for a full two-week course in order to prevent recurrence of the infection.
Topical treatments include poultices of peppermint, oregano, or lavender. Tea tree oil, diluted with a carrier oil of almond oil, can be applied to the rash several times per day. Cedarwood and jasmine oils can relieve itching when applied in the same manner. Grapefruit seed extract can be taken as a strong solution of 15 drops in 1 oz of water.
Another alternative remedy for jock itch is to wash the groin area with the diluted juice of a freshly squeezed lemon, which can help dry up the rash. A hair dryer on the cool setting can also be used on the area after showering to dry it thoroughly. A warm bath relieves itching in many patients. The affected area should kept clean and dry, and loose-fitting, cotton underwear is recommended.
Fungus — A single-celled or multi-celled organism without chlorophyll that reproduces by spores and lives by absorbing nutrients from organic matter.
Scrotum — The external pouch of skin and muscle containing the testes (testicles).
Vaginal yeast infection — An overgrowth of fungus in the vaginal area.
Treatment for jock itch is quick and usually effective, but the condition often comes back. With treatment, jock itch improves in two or three days and is completely gone in three or four weeks. The following people should be especially vigilant to prevent the problem from returning:
- People with fungal infections that affect other parts of the body (such as athlete's foot)
- People who wear tight clothing
- People with damaged or altered immune systems, including people with HIV or AIDS
The best prevention of jock itch is cleanliness and sanitation. This includes keeping the groin area dry, wearing loose-fitting rather than tight clothing, wear boxer shorts rather than briefs, change sweat-covered clothes as soon as possible, showering immediately after working out or playing a sport and then applying talc, and washing workout clothes or sports uniforms after each use.
Icon Health Publications. Jock Itch—A Medical Dictionary, Bibliography, and Annotated Research Guide to Internet References San Diego: Icon Health Publications, 2003.
Grin, Caron. "Tinea: Diagnostic Clues, Treatment Keys." Consultant (February 2004): 214-216.
"Jock Itch." Clinical Reference Systems (January 1, 2004): 1859.
Schmitt, B. D. "Jock Itch for Teenagers." Clinical Reference Systems (January 1, 2004): 1858.
American Academy of Dermatology. 1350 I St. NW, Suite 870, Washington, DC 20005. (202) 842-3555. http://www.aad.org.
August 5, 2003. National Institutes of Health Medical Encyclopedia Jock Itch 〈http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/print/ency/article/ooo876.htm〉. (Accessed March 30, 2005).
a skin condition accompanied by the desire to scratch an area of skin to relieve discomfort; see also pruritus.
bakers' itch any of several inflammatory dermatoses of the hands and forearms, especially chronic candidal paronychia, seen with special frequency in bakers.
grain itch itching dermatitis due to a mite, Pyemotes ventricosus, which preys on certain insect larvae that live on straw, grain, and other plants.
grocers' itch a vesicular dermatitis caused by certain mites found in stored hides, dried fruits, grain, copra, and cheese.
ground itch the itching eruption caused by entrance into the skin of the larvae of the hookworm Ancylostoma duodenale or Necator americanus; see also hookworm disease.
jock itch popular name for tinea cruris.
seven-year itch popular name for scabies.
swimmers' itch an itching dermatitis due to penetration into the skin of larval forms (cercaria) of schistosomes, found in those who bathe in infested waters.
winter itch itching of the skin in cold weather, unassociated with structural lesions.
A fungal infection of the skin of the groin area, occurring more commonly in warm weather and among males and characterized by red ringlike areas, sometimes with small blisters, and severe itching; ringworm of the groin. Also called tinea cruris.