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Jock Itch - Topic Overview

What is jock itch?

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.

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What causes jock itch?

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.

What are the symptoms of jock itch?

Symptoms of jock itch include the following:

  • Itching and pain are common.
  • A rash is on the groin, skin folds, inner thighs, or buttocks. The rash usually does not occur on the scrotum or penis.
  • The edge of the rash is very distinct and may be scaly or have bumps that look like blisters.
  • The center of the rash may have a red-brown color.

How is jock itch diagnosed?

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.

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