A long walk on a humid summer day or an intense gym session that forced you to snooze before showering can be bad news—in the form of jock itch. It’s that terrible itch that creeps up into your groin and inner thighs. Also called Tinea cruris, the fungal infection ticks off a lot of boxes. Is jock itch contagious? Yes. Itchy and irritating? Absolutely. Makes doing nearly everything worse? You bet!
Jock itch is an infection that targets the skin around your genitals, upper inner thighs, and buttocks. It’s part of the same family of fungi that leads to athlete’s foot and ringworm, and it can also appear underneath your breasts.
The name comes from the fact that it’s associated with people who sweat a lot, like athletes. But don’t let that fool you; anybody can get it.
Thankfully, if your jock itch won’t go away, there are plenty of effective treatment techniques to try.
It’s not a harmful condition, so by practicing good hygiene, you can quickly clear it up and free yourself from the pain of jock itch. Healing time can last anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks, depending on how diligent you are.
Jock Itch (Tinea Cruris) Symptoms
If you’re wondering, “How long does jock itch last?” you first want to assess whether it’s what you’re actually experiencing.
Some jock itch symptoms to look for include:
- A reddened area of skin spreading from the crest of the groin to the inner thigh; it will typically be half-moon shaped
- A rash border with small cysts on the inner thigh
- Burning sensation
- Flakey, peeling, or cracking skin
- Pain/sensations that worsen when walking/exercising
- Doesn’t necessarily improve with itch cream.
Jock Itch Causes
If you sweat a lot, whether from activity or any other reason, you’re more likely to get jock itch.
The type of fungus that causes the rash thrives in warm, moist places, and let’s be honest—the groin area can get a little swampy.
The condition can be aggravated by friction from your legs rubbing together or the clothing you’ve got on, as well as how long the rash is left to fester in the moist conditions.
All of these factors can also play role in how long jock itch takes to clear up.
Is Jock Itch Contagious?
Jock itch is contagious, and it can also transport itself from one area of your body to another.
The first thing to note is that you can get it by making contact with an infected surface. So if you’re in the gym after a workout and your training partner offers a high five after they’ve just removed their shorts, kindly reject the offer.
Aside from skin-to-skin contact, jock itch can also be spread across surfaces.
For example, you may be battling a case of athlete’s foot and the crotch or waistband of your underwear comes into contact with the fungus when you’re putting them on. Because they are both part of the cruris family, it’s quite possible that you will develop jock itch.
You can also get the infection from soiled towels. So similarly, drying an infected foot and later using the same towel to dry your crotch can spread the infection.
Even moving your dirty laundry and touching the groin area before washing your hands can promote jock itch.
Jock Itch Diagnosis
If you’re unsure whether your discomfort is caused by jock itch, it’s best to go see a doctor.
In most cases, they will be able to take a quick look at the area and determine the cause of the rash. Jock itch is pretty identifiable and they see it regularly, so much more inspection than that is rare.
Some incidences may warrant a closer look, in which case you may be subjected to submitting a skin sample. This is accomplished by scraping off a little bit of skin in the area for analysis.
Jock Itch Treatments
Treatment is relatively straightforward and there are a few answers to the question of how to cure jock itch.
If the discomfort is overwhelming and has lasted a few days, you can elect to use medical treatments. But if it isn’t bothering you too much, you can apply self care.
Medical treatments are typically topical applications to reduce itching, dry the area, and battle the infection. The medicines, which you can buy over the counter, will contain ingredients like miconazole, clotrimazole, terbinafine, or tolnaftate.
All of these medications will clearly indicate on the label that they treat ringworm, athlete’s foot, or jock itch.
If using these options yields little results after two weeks, visit your doctor, who can prescribe stronger topical or oral medications. An antibiotic may be necessary for severe infections.
You can also treat jock itch naturally by keeping the area dry with talc-free baby powder after showering.
Other natural treatments include:
- Keeping the area clean and dry
- Not wearing clothes that rub or irritate the area
- Allowing the area more exposure to fresh air (get naked when you can)
- Washing clothes before wearing them again
- Using a separate towel to dry the area
- Treating athlete’s foot
- Wearing loose clothing
- Showering directly after exercising
If you’ve gone out for a walk, for example, and feel some sensitivity in the area, it’s best to take a proactive approach.
Take a shower and thoroughly wash and dry the area. Then, either spend a little time naked or put on some loose shorts or a dress to allow for proper ventilation.
If you’re staying home, you may also want to forego underwear. Also, remember to toss the towel in the laundry to prevent the fungus from spreading.
Jock Itch (Tinea Cruris) Prevention
Now, obviously I wouldn’t tell you to stop exercise or moving, but there are ways to maintain an active lifestyle—or simply sweat heavily—and minimize the risk of infection.
Jock itch prevention techniques involve keeping the area dry and clean, and minimizing exposure to infection.
- After exercising, take a shower. Wash the area thoroughly and make sure it’s well dried. If you regularly sweat down there, apply talc-free powder after drying to minimize moisture.
- Change your underwear at least once per day. If you sweat a lot, when you get home from work is a good time. And if you’re not going anywhere, maybe spend a little time without any underwear. Sleeping naked can also help expose the area to fresh air.
- Wash your clothing regularly. Wearing clean clothes is also a good way to minimize risk.
- Wear breathable clothing. In addition to clean clothes, try loose-fitting options as well. Switching to boxers from briefs can offer some relief.
Jock Itch Risk Factors
There are some factors that can increase your risk of jock itch. They include:
- Being a teen or young adult
- Wearing tight underwear
- Infrequent showering/cleaning of the area
- Being obese
- Being highly active
- Sweating heavily, regularly
- Having diabetes
- Using shared towels
- Reusing the same towels/clothes without doing regular laundry
Worried Your Jock Itch Won’t Go Away? Don’t Be!
Jock itch is a rarely a serious condition and will always go away in time.
If you’re proactive about treatment, keeping the area clean and dry, the fungal infection can clear up very quickly. It usually lasts a couple of weeks at most. That said, I’ve also seen it clear up in a day or two with adequate attention.
If it’s been bothering you, try these tips so that you can get back on your feet without all the itchy irritation.
Article Sources (+)