Tinea cruris is more commonly called crotch itch, crotch rot, gym itch, jock itch, or jock rot. It is a fungal infection that affects the skin of the genitals, inner thighs, and buttocks. Tinea Cruris is identified by an itchy, red, sometimes ring-shaped rash in the warm, moist areas of the body. Although it can be found in both sexes, it is much more common in males, and particularly in men with excess weight or obesity. Jock itch gets its name because it is common in people who sweat a lot such as athletes.

The Fungus Among Us

The first sign of tinea cruris is a reddened area of skin that spreads out from the crease in the groin, in a half-moon shape onto the upper thigh. A line of small, raised blisters, which often itch or burn, will be seen along the rash border. The skin will turn flaky or scaly, and the rash may ooze. Tinea cruris is triggered by a fungus that spreads from person to person via physical contact or the shared use of contaminated towels, wash clothes, or clothing. It is the same fungus that causes in athlete's foot, so it often spreads from the feet to the groin due, transferred by the hands or a towel.


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Who is at Risk

Tinea cruris is most active in men, especially teens and young adults. People who wear tight underwear that trap moisture are especially prone to contracting the rash. Overweight people are susceptible to jock itch because the layers of skin trap moisture and encourage fungus growth. Those who sweat heavily also have an increased tendency to contract the condition. Others who are at high risk of contracting tinea cruris include those with a weakened immune system and people with diabetes.

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Not for Men Only

Although tinea cruris is more frequently seen in men, women are not immune. Often, however, the fungus is transferred from an infected male to a female. This usually occurs during sexual intercourse; condoms do not prevent the spread of tinea cruris. The risk of transmission from man to woman is considered low to moderate. It is possible for a woman to catch jock itch from the hands of a male partner who has scratched or rubbed his groin area and then touched her genitals. The fungus can also be transferred through towels, sheets, and sharing clothing.


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Keeping it Clean

The good news is that while tinea cruris is uncomfortable, it is not often serious. Because the fungus thrives in damp, close places, the best advice in preventing jock itch is to keep your groin area dry. After exercising or taking a shower, be sure to fully dry your genitals and inner thigh with a clean towel. For extra precaution, use powder in the groin region to prevent excess moisture.


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Clothes Make the Man

Your clothes can be the cause of an outbreak of tinea cruris. If you sweat a lot, change your underwear as often as needed to keep dry. Be sure to wash sweaty workout clothes each time you wear them. Tight clothes create spaces for the fungus to grow, so consider wearing clothes that do not fit too snugly. Underwear, athletic supporters, and sports uniforms should not be too tight because they rub and chafe the skin, raising the likelihood of developing jock itch.

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Athletes Beware

Many athletes contract athlete's foot at some point. When this happens, it is important to take extra precautions to prevent the spread of the fungus to the groin area. If an athlete is experiencing both athlete's foot and jock itch, both rashes should be treated quickly, to reduce the chance of recurrence. If either rash is severe or does not respond to over-the-counter medicine, the individual may need a prescription-strength cream or ointment.


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Be Stingy

One of the most common ways jock itch is spread is through the use of a shared towel or sitting on a sweaty piece of exercise equipment after someone else has used it. To prevent the spread of the fungus, do not let anyone else use your towels, clothing, or other personal items, and do not borrow these items from someone else. Also, be sure to thoroughly dry any exercise equipment you are using after someone else has used it.

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When to See the Doctor

Jock itch is bothersome but is not life-threatening. You probably will not have to go to the doctor unless the rash does not improve after a couple of weeks of treating it with an over-the-counter medication. If the rash persists, you may need a more powerful treatment. A simple physical exam will reveal the extent of the problem. If the doctor suspects a skin condition such as psoriasis is involved, he or she may scrape the infected area and run lab tests to reach a different diagnosis.



Turn to Antifungal Cream

The Mayo Clinic recommends using an over-the-counter antifungal ointment, lotion, powder or spray to cure mild cases of tinea cruris. The rash may clear away quickly, but continue to use the antifungal as directed, to ensure the demise of the fungus. Topical steroids may also be useful in combination with the antifungal medication.

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