Your Basic Guide to Jock Itch

What You Should Know About This Mold-Like Fungal Infection

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Tinea is a fungal infection that can grow on your skin, hair, or nails. It is caused by several types of mold-like fungi known as dermatophytes (der-MAH-tuh-fites). Dermatophytes live on the dead tissue of your skin, hair, and nails. When your body gets moist and damp and is not dried properly, it provides an environment that helps fungi multiply and thrive.

When you have tinea, it spreads out into a circle that looks like a ring.

At the edge of the ring, the skin is red and scaly and it is lifted up. It may look like there is a worm under your skin and that is why tinea is often called ringworm.

Different Names for Ringworm

Tinea is named after the part of the body it infects. They are named as follows:

  • Tinea cruris – a fungal infection in the groin area, also known as “jock itch”
  • Tinea corporis – a fungal infection on the skin of the body
  • Tinea pedis – a fungal infection on your foot, also known as “athlete's foot”
  • Tineas unguium  - a fungal infection on your nails
  • Tinea capitis – a fungal infection on your head
  • Tinea barbae – a fungal infection of your beard
  • Tinea manuum – a fungal infection of your hand

Jock itch, or tineas cruris (TIH-nee-uh KRUR-us), affects the skin of your genitals, inner thighs, and buttocks. It usually starts with a reddened area of skin that spreads from the groin crease onto the upper thigh. There may be small, raised blisters and the rash may itch or burn.

The skin may be flaky.

Causes and Risk Factors of Jock Itch

Fungal infections thrive on damp surfaces, such as locker room floors and public showers. You can catch them from your dog, cat, and farm animals. You can also get a fungal infection by skin-to-skin contact with someone who has one. Jock itch is more likely to occur in people who are overweight.

Tinea thrives in a damp environment. You run the risk of developing jock itch if you:

Symptoms of Jock Itch

The symptoms of jock itch usually appear between 4 and 14 days after it becomes infected. The symptoms generally include:

  • Itchy skin
  • Ring-shaped rash
  • Red, scaly, cracked skin

The rash usually appears on the inner sides of the skin folds of the thigh.

Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention of Jock Itch

Your doctor will know if you have a fungal infection. To confirm diagnosis, a skin scraping may be taken at the site of the infection for laboratory testing. If you have jock itch, there is over-the-counter antifungal medication that can treat it. Sometimes you may have to take antifungal medication orally.

Tinea cruris can be treated by a variety of over-the-counter medication, prescription creams, and oral medication. If your rash does not improve within two weeks or if it has returned after you have treated it with over-the-counter medication, you should see your doctor.

You may need prescription medication.

You can prevent getting jock itch by keeping your skin clean and dry. You should make sure that you change your underwear every day, especially in warm weather. Try not to sweat in warm weather by wearing heavy clothing. Don’t share your clothing or towels and try not to borrow any items from others. If you use shared exercise equipment, wipe it down to make sure it is clean before you use it.


  • MedlinePlus
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • American Osteopathic College of Dermatology
  • Mayo Clinic
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • The Nemours Foundation

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