If you’re wondering how to get rid of jock itch, you might also be thinking: “I’m not a jock. Why do I have the itch?”
It’s a question doctors hear more often than you might think.
Jock itch, scientifically known as tinea cruris, is a fungus brought on by intense sweating. While heavy perspiration is a condition often associated with athletes pushing limits during competition and practice, profuse sweating also can be a hallmark of extremely unhealthy people.
Diabetics and the obese experience heavy sweating at times, for example, and therefore can experience jock itch and its associated misery.
On hot and humid days, people with chronic health conditions may sweat profusely. If they are at a pool or the beach, they naturally may be wearing swimwear. But swimwear, by way of its constriction of the genitalia area, creates a breeding ground for jock itch during sweltering summer months.
Swimsuits should be washed in hot water and bleach after every use, especially if you think you may have jock itch. Families on summer vacations may want to reconsider the common practice of simply throwing wet swimwear over the HVAC in the hotel room for next use. The HVAC, in fact, will introduce even more bacteria into the damp garment.
What Does Jock Itch Look Like? Is It Contagious?
While the name denotes a feeling—an itch—tinea cruris is easy to spot for those afflicted. Intense redness resembling a sunburn radiates outward from the inner thighs and crotch area. The rash becomes elevated. The rash also can form on the buttocks. The intensity of the redness can be alarming to someone experiencing jock itch for the first time, particularly if the redness appears before the itch.
Tinea cruris can be spread easily. “Jock itch is often caused by the same fungus that results in athlete’s foot,” Mayo Clinic advises on its website. “It’s common for the infection to spread from the feet to the groin, as the fungus can travel on your hands or on a towel.”
What to Use for Jock Itch
The most common types of medications used for jock itch are the antifungals azoles and benzylamines. Both destroy fungi by interfering with their cell processes. Some can be obtained over the counter, but others require a doctor’s prescription.
Multiple studies have shown that antifungals plus a corticosteroid yield the fastest results for jock itch relief—emphasis on relief. A paper published in Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (U.K.) showed azoles and benzylamines both cure jock itch, but that when combined with a topical corticosteroid, they achieved the cure faster.
Or did they?
“Combinations of antifungal treatment with a topical corticosteroid achieved higher cure rates, probably because the skin redness disappears sooner due to the effect of the corticosteroid. There was no evidence of any difference in the speed of resolution of fungal infection with these combination treatments.”
There are also a couple of natural solutions that might be worth trying, but medical research proving their effectiveness is extremely limited. This is common, however, given the cost of medical research.
How to Get Rid of Jock Itch Naturally
Oil of Bitter Orange: While it’s just a small clinical trial of 20 people, the results offer hope for those with chronic jock itch. In the trial, half were cured of jock itch when treated with 20% oil of bitter orange in alcohol. The 1996 paper was published in the International Journal of Dermatology.
Tea Tree Oil: Tea tree oil is the only herbal medicine British researchers deemed semi-effective in treating fungal infections in a 2004 review archived in Database of Abstracts of Reviews and Effects (DARE): Quality-assessed Reviews, York.
How to Get Rid of Jock Itch for Good
Cleveland Clinic offers common-sense tips for preventing jock itch, but they’re only common-sense if you know that athlete’s foot and jock itch go hand in hand.
- Treat athlete’s foot. Jock itch and athlete’s foot constantly get transferred back and forth via your hands and the towels you dry off with. Make sure you treat them both.
- If you have athlete’s foot, put on socks before underwear to prevent jock itch. Wash your hands after putting on those undergarments. This will prevent you from spreading athlete’s foot to the groin area, or spreading jock itch to the foot. The fungus can grow in both places.
- Change your underwear twice a day if you sweat a lot. It’s worth the extra laundry.
- Men, keep your private parts dry. But don’t constrict them if you’re prone to jock itch and can help it. Consider wearing boxers instead of briefs.
- Never, ever share (or wear) previously worn, unlaundered clothes with (or from) anyone.
- Be smart about groin health. Keeping the area clean and dry is the key.