A Quick Look At Jock Itch

What is a Jock Itch?

There are several common superficial fungal infections and jock itch is one of them. It is known medically as Tinea cruris and is similar to athlete’s foot (Tinea pedis) and Tinia capitis (scalp fungal infection) and ringworm (fungal infection of skin). The fungus that usually causes jock itch is called Epidermophyton floccosum, although jock itch or athlete’s foot may be caused by E. floccosum or mixed infections with Trichophyton rubrum or T. mentagrophytes. Jock itch will usually first present as red inflamed patches on the upper inner thighs, and then progresses as red moist patches with raised scaling borders. It is felt that most of the inflammation is the body’s reaction to the fungus as well as some associated bacterial infection. Heat, humidity, friction, obesity, and heavy clothing all appear to increase the risk of jock itch. It is more common in men who wear athletic supporters (jocks), but also occurs in women. The red patches are itchy, and scratching them may spread the fungus and lead to bacterial super-infection.

How does one get it?

Jock itch can occur in isolation but is mildly contagious and may be acquired in public showers or swimming pools. Sharing towels can spread the fungus. Wearing jock straps that have been kept in a damp locker without frequent washing is a common story for jock itch sufferers. Prolonged wearing of wet bathing suits or damp underwear will promote fungal growth.

How does one get rid of it?

Treatment with over-the-counter antifungal creams or powders is usually effective. It is important to keep the affected area dry and to wear fresh clean cotton underwear. Dry off thoroughly after bathing before getting dressed. If over-the-counter medications do not work within a few weeks, a trip to a dermatologist or family care doctor may be needed. In persons who are immuno compromised treatment may be more protracted and may require oral agents.

Effective topical agents: Miconazole (Monistat-Derm, Micatin), Econazole (Spectazole), Clotrimazole (Lotrimin), Naftifine (Naftin), or Tolnaftate (Tinactin, Aftate).

Additional sites for information:

Tinactin home page

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