What Is Jock Itch?

Jock itch, also known as tinea cruris, is caused by a fungal infection of the groin. It can affect the skin of your genitals, inner thighs and buttocks. There are several different types of tinea fungal infections, all caused by a type of fungus called dermatophytes. Jock itch is closely related to the fungus that causes athlete’s foot and it is common for people to have both infections at same time.

Dr Clair Grainger

Medically reviewed by

Dr Clair Grainger

Last reviewed: 05 Dec 2019

How Do You Get Jock Itch?

Jock itch is contagious and is spread either by direct skin contact or by touching contaminated items like clothing or towels or spread from a fungal infection elsewhere on your own body. The fungal spores that cause jock itch are very resilient. They can survive for months on your skin or on contaminated items before they get transmitted. The fungus grows best in the warm, moist places, such as the area around your groin. Consequently, jock itch is most common in people who sweat a lot, such as athletes or overweight people. It can also be triggered by friction from your clothing.

You are at higher risk of getting jock itch if you:

  • Are overweight
  • Wear tight underwear or athletic clothing that isn’t washed after every use
  • Are a man, although women can get jock itch too
  • Sweat a lot
  • Have a weakened immune system. This could be due to old age, having a condition such as HIV or taking medication (such as chemotherapy medication) that affects your immune system
  • Have other skin conditions, like eczema, that already make your skin inflamed and sore

What Does Jock Itch Look Like?

The symptoms of jock itch are a red-brown, itchy rash, usually on your inner thighs or bottom. Your genitals are not usually affected. The rash may spread out in a ring or semi-circle shape. There might be little blisters or pus-filled sores along the border of the rash. The area of affected skin may also be flaky or scaly.

What is the Treatment for Jock Itch?

Jock itch is not usually serious but you should treat it quickly to minimise the symptoms and stop it spreading. Infections are easily treated with an antifungal cream, gel or spray that you can buy over the counter from any pharmacist.

Antifungal treatments are usually applied daily for two weeks. The treatment should be applied over the affected area of skin and extended out to cover one inch of skin beyond the edge of your rash. Make sure to read the specific manufacturer’s instructions or discuss it with your pharmacist. The rash should clear up in 10 to 14 days.

However, your pharmacist may recommend that you continue to apply the antifungal treatment for a further two weeks to reduce the risk of re-infection. If your rash is severe, or persists for longer than two weeks you should see your GP. They may need to prescribe you a stronger cream or antifungal tablets to clear up the infection.

If your skin is very inflamed you may also be prescribed a short course of a mild topical steroid cream to use alongside the antifungal cream, or a cream that contains both in one.

If there is broken skin in the affected area, it is possible that you get a bacterial infection. In this case, you must see your GP to get a prescription for a course of antibiotics.

If you also have athlete's foot, it is important to treat both infections at the same time. This will reduce the chance of you re-infecting yourself. If you are treating both infections, use different towels for each body area when washing to prevent spreading the fungus. Try not to scratch the infected skin, because this could lead to you spreading the infection to other parts of your body.

While you are treating the infection, it is important to wash and thoroughly dry the infected area every day. Wear loose fitting clothing, change underwear daily and keep the infected area clean and dry. Make sure to wash your clothes, towels and bed linen frequently during your treatment. Exercising, walking and wearing tight clothing or underwear can make the symptoms of jock itch worse.

How Can You Prevent Jock Itch?

The best way to prevent jock itch is not to provide the fungus with an environment that it can thrive in. This is most easily done by practicing good personal hygiene:

  • Wash your groin area daily, and make sure to dry it thoroughly with a clean towel, particularly in the folds of skin.
  • Thoroughly dry your groin area after exercising.
  • Apply a talc powder to your groin area to prevent excess moisture from sweating.
  • Wear clean clothes and change underwear daily, or more if you sweat a lot.
  • Don’t wear tight clothing that rubs or chafes your skin.
  • Choose clothing made of cotton or other natural fibers.
  • Wear boxers rather than tight fitting briefs.
  • Don’t share personal items including towels, clothing and bedding.
  • Wash workout clothes after each use.
  • Wash towels and bed linen frequently.
  • Treat athlete’s foot infections to stop them spreading to your groin.


Chronic dermatophytosis: what is special about Trichophyton rubrum? (1994) Adv Dermatol [accessed 4 August]

Fungal skin infection (2018) NICE [accessed 1 April]

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