What is Jock Itch?
Jock itch (tinea cruris) is a fungal infection that affects the skin of your genitals, inner thighs and buttocks. Jock itch causes an itchy, red, often ring-shaped rash in these warm, moist areas of your body.
What causes Jock itch?
Jock itch is caused by fungi called dermatophytes. These microscopic organisms are normal inhabitants of your skin, and their growth stays in check as long as your skin is clean and dry. But on some areas of the body where skin is more likely to be moist and warm, such as the groin, the fungi grow and thrive, resulting in a fungal infection.
This infection is often caused by the same type of fungus that causes athlete's foot and, sometimes, ringworm of the scalp. In fact, the fungus that infects your groin area may be spread there from your own athlete's foot infection.
Jock itch can spread from person to person by shared use of contaminated towels or clothing or through direct contact during sexual intercourse with someone who has the infection.
Treatment of Jock Itch
For a mild case of jock itch, your doctor may suggest first using an over-the-counter antifungal ointment, lotion, powder or spray. If you also have athlete's foot, treat it at the same time you are treating your jock itch to reduce the risk of recurrence.
People with weak immune systems, such as those with diabetes or HIV/AIDS, may find it more difficult to get rid of this infection.
Jock itch is treated with one of two types of antifungal medications, allylamines and azoles. The rash may clear up quickly with these treatments, but continue applying the medication twice a day for at least 10 days.
- Allylamines. These drugs, such as terbinafine (Lamisil AT), require shorter treatment time than do azoles.
- Azoles. These drugs, including miconazole and clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF), are less expensive than are allylamines.
If jock itch is severe or doesn't respond to over-the-counter medicine, you may need a prescription-strength topical or oral medication.
- Topical medications. These include econazole and oxiconazole (Oxistat).
- Oral (systemic) medications. Your doctor may prescribe itraconazole (Sporanox), fluconazole (Diflucan) or terbinafine (Lamisil) Side effects from these medications include gastrointestinal upset, rash and abnormal liver function. Taking other medications, such as antacid therapies for ulcer disease or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), may interfere with the absorption of these drugs. Oral medications for fungal infection may alter the effectiveness of warfarin, an anticoagulant drug that decreases the clotting ability of your blood.
- Another oral medication, griseofulvin (Grifulvin V), is sometimes used to treat fungal skin infections. Although it's effective, it may take longer to clear up the infection. Potential side effects include headache, discomfort in the digestive tract, sensitivity to light, rashes or a drop in your white blood cell count. Griseofulvin may be used for people who are allergic to other antifungal medications, or for people who have other medical conditions that may be negatively affected by other medications, such as people with liver disease.