What is jock itch?
What’s as easy to catch as an athlete's foot, but can be much more uncomfortable? It’s jock itch (also known as tinea cruris), a fungal groin infection that is caused by a group of fungi called dermatophytes.1
It is a skin infection that affects your groin area - genitals, inner and upper thighs and buttocks - causing a red, itchy, ring-shaped rash that appears on your skin. Dermatophytes can spread easily through scratching. Thus, if you have athlete’s foot or a nail fungal infection, you are more at risk of catching jock itch. Normally, dermatophytes live harmlessly on your skin, hair and nails, but can multiply quickly and cause infection when there is a warm and moist environment, for example if you remain in sweat-soaked clothes.2
Jock itch mostly affects men and adolescent boys because moisture can get trapped between the scrotum and thigh. As the name suggests, it often appears in athletes too because they sweat a lot, and wear tight and wet clothes for long periods of time. If you are overweight, you are more likely to experience jock itch because the fungus can thrive in folds of skin, which are prone to sweating.3 But jock itch can affect anyone because it is highly contagious. You can get it through close contact with an infected person but also through contaminated towels, clothes and your hands if you touch other infected areas like your foot.
Typical causes of jock itch:
wearing clothes that are tight and irritate your skin
prevalence of moisture in your groin area from sweating
leaving on a wet bathing suit for a long time
sharing damp towels or sweaty clothing
being in close contact with someone infected 4