Jock itch is an uncomfortable subject and an equally uncomfortable condition. Known by the medical field as tinea cruris, it is a persistent reddish, flaky, itchy rash in the groin and around the anus caused by a fungal imbalance on the skin. It is most common in men, though it can certainly occur in women, and is most likely to occur in humid weather or among people who are very active. The condition is contagious, and a person suffering from it should not share towels or clothing with others.
All people have a certain amount of fungus on their bodies, and under certain conditions, it can begin to spread. The warm and humid groin area is often ideal for its growth. The most common fungus that causes jock itch is Trichophytum rubrum. The condition may first be noticed when areas in the folds of the groin look red or irritated and the redness continues to advance and becomes uncomfortable over the next few days.
People who have not had jock itch before should see a medical professional for a diagnosis, since the rash could be caused by something else. Intertrigo, essentially the male yeast infection, may require a different treatment. A condition called erythrasma is a bacterial infection that mimics the symptoms, and treating it with antifungal cream will only make the problem worse. Instead, erythrasma requires treatment with oral or topical antibiotics.
Once the condition has been verified, a patient can treat it with one of several over-the-counter anti-fungal creams. Steroidal creams should not be used to relieve itching, however, since they can make the condition worse. Patients should not apply steroids to the groin area at all unless prescribed by a medical professional. Anti-fungal creams should be used until a week after the rash has disappeared, and most cases of jock itch resolve about two weeks after treatment begins. If the cream is not working, stronger prescription antifungals may be used.
It’s important for patients to keep the groin area dry during treatment. People with this condition should change their underwear at least once a day, and they may find that it's better not to wear underwear at night. After any activity, patients should gently pat the groin area dry with a towel. They may also want to make sure the entire affected area is completely dry after using the bathroom, especially if warm weather is causing extra sweating.
People with jock itch should abstain from sexual activity, since it can be passed to other people. They should avoid sharing towels too, as this is another means of transmission. Once the condition has cleared, patients may still want to observe precautions like toweling the groin area after activities, not sharing towels or clothes with others, and choosing underwear styles that are loose fitting and made of breathable fabric to reduce the chances of developing the problem again.