What Is Jock Itch?

Jock itch is a fungal infection of the skin that affects the groin, upper thighs, and buttocks.

What Causes Jock Itch?

Jock itch is a common skin infection that is caused by a fungus (say: FUN-guss). A fungus is a plant-like microorganism (say: my-kro-OR-guh-niz-um) too small to be seen by the naked eye.

Who Gets Jock Itch?

Jock itch mostly happens in teen and young adult guys. But kids and women can get it too. People who sweat a lot can get it, especially if they wear athletic equipment (a "jock strap") in their groin area.

Why Is It Called Jock Itch?

Jock itch gets its name because athletes often get it. Why? The fungus that causes it can be found where athletes often are. The fungus grows on the warm, damp surfaces around pools, public showers, and locker rooms. People who touch these surfaces can get the fungus on their hands. Or they might use a damp towel that has the jock itch fungus on it. Then it can easily spread to the sweaty areas of their body, such as the groin area.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Jock Itch?

If you get jock itch, it might feel just a little annoying — or it could be really uncomfortable! It usually looks like a red rash with raised edges, and might itch or burn.

What Will the Doctor Do?

A doctor can usually figure out that you have jock itch by looking at the skin on your inner thighs or groin. Your doctor may swab or scrape off a skin sample to test for fungus. But don’t worry — this won't hurt!

Treatment is usually simple. For mild cases, your doctor may have you apply a powder that contains medicine or cream that kills fungus. This should make you feel better in a few days. Sometimes you'll need to use the medicine for up to a month to get rid of the jock itch completely.

You'll also need to keep your groin area clean and dry. If doing these things doesn't help clear up the infection, your doctor might prescribe a stronger medicine. This one will be the kind you swallow, not just something that you put on your skin.

Jock Itch Prevention

You can do your part to avoid jock itch by:

  • Taking a shower or bath every day (especially after playing sports and sweating) and drying off very well after.
  • Wearing clean cotton underwear and loose-fitting pants.
  • Changing your clothing, especially your underwear, every day.
  • Using clean towels and not sharing towels or clothes.
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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.

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