A ‘jock itch’, ‘gym itch’, ‘crotch rot’, ‘ringworm of the groin’ or more technically ‘tinea cruris’ is a common fungal infection of the groin that can occur in either sex but is more common in males.
A jock itch essentially causes itching and burning in the groin area, the top of the thigh, the area around the genitals and the perineum and perianial areas. These areas may then also appear reddish and ‘raw’ and often with cracking skin.
This is an example of an ‘opportunistic infection’ meaning that it occurs when the immune system is low and unable to defend the body as it usually might. Interestingly it can be caused or contributed by similar fungal infections located around the body such as tinea pedis (athletes foot). The reason that the groin is susceptible is that it is generally kept warm, moist (particularly in those who regularly sweat hence ‘gym itch’) and dark which creates the perfect breading environment for bacteria. The fungi that affect the area will vary, but the most common is trichophyton rubrum. Others include candida albicans, tirichophyton mentagrophytes and others.
It is possible to prevent a jock itch to an extent by simply keeping it clean and dry. This might mean drying more efficiently, and combating sweat by using loose fitting underwear and replacing underwear after exertion. You should not share clothing or towels with others and should avoid tightfitting clothes. Similarly practice sleeping naked to give your groin the opportunity to ‘air’ and trim your pubic hair. Of course you can also try to keep the immune system high (which is adviseable anyway) by avoiding stress, learning stress management techniques, using vitamin and mineral supplements and getting lots of sleep.
Jock itch is fortunately more of an irritation than a serious condition. If you should contract it then a doctor will treat the condition with antifungul drugs applied topically such as creams containing tolnaftate etc.
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