I’ve been seeing a lot of jocks lately. The anatomical area, not the athletes. Summertime means heat and humidity, sports, and itchy groins. Jock itch is a general term for an itchy rash in the area. Heat, sweat, and skin rubbing on skin can leave the area looking like you slid into second base, groin first.
There are three main causes of an itchy groin. Classic jock itch is caused by a fungus, the same fungus that causes athlete’s foot. This fungus often causes a red scaly rash on the inner thighs. It tends to be dry and can have bumps or pimples. The fungus is often spread from your feet or from contaminated sports equipment, towels, etc. It can be treated with topical terbinafine cream 1% twice a day for 2-4 weeks. Severe cases can require oral anti-fungal medications, especially if the fungus has spread to other areas on your body.
The second cause of an itchy groin is a yeast infection (yes, the same yeast that can cause a vaginal yeast infection in women). The yeast grows well in warm, moist areas and causes a bright pink, moist, irritated rash. Unlike the fungus, yeast can spread onto the scrotum. It can be treated with topical clotrimazole cream 1% twice a day for 2-4 weeks.
The third common cause of a jock itch is a bacterial infection. Certain bacteria take advantage of the irritated skin and warm environment causing a rash called erythrasma. This can be treated with miconazole 2% cream twice a day for 2 weeks.
For all causes of jock itch it is important to keep the area clean and dry. Sometimes washing your groin with anti-dandruff shampoo such as zinc or selenium sulfide shampoos can help clear unwanted organisms. Hydrocortisone 1% cream can be added to any of the above treatments to reduce the redness and itching while the infection is being treated. Use it once to twice daily.
Remember, it is important to keep the area dry. The standard way is to use powders (some of which are medicated for an added bonus, such as Gold Bond). Once the active infection is resolved, treating your groin with your underarm antiperspirant can help keep this area dry, thereby making it less inviting for fungus and other organisms to return.
However, I don’t recommend spraying antiperspirant on your groin if you’re in the midst of a raging jock itch — you’ll spend the entire day scratching an area that shouldn’t be scratched in public.
Photo: jkstrapme (flickr)