Can Women Get Jock Itch?
Although the term jock itch is primarily associated with athletic adolescent boys and men, anyone can get this skin infection including women. Jock itch is a colloquial term for tinea cruris, which is ringworm of the groin. It is a rash caused by a fungus that thrives in warm, damp places. The rash may appear red and raised, itch, and include pimples or pustules that ooze. It usually appears in the folds of the skin, but may spread to the upper or inner thighs, the buttocks, the anal area, underneath the breasts, and even the armpits.
Women can get jock itch in a couple of ways. The rash may develop if the vaginal area remains moist for long periods of time, such as after sweating or taking a shower. Female athletes are at a higher risk of getting tinea cruris than women who don’t participate in sports or exercise. It is also caused by wearing tight underwear made from synthetic fabrics that trap moisture and rub against the area and not changing underwear frequently enough. Contact with an infected person or object is another common way women get jock itch.
Can My Husband Catch Jock Itch?
The short answer is yes. Jock itch mostly affects men, so it is more likely he will get the skin infection first and pass it onto you. However, you can also pass the infection to him. The most common way this occurs is through sexual activity, but the infection can also be passed by sharing towels or wearing unwashed clothing worn by the infected person. Sometimes, but not always, jock itch can be spread through bedding, so sleeping in the same bed as the person with ringworm increases the risk of passing or receiving the infection.
Risk Factors for Jock Itch
Tinea cruris thrives in warm damp areas of the body. You are more likely to develop this skin infection if you have the following risk factors:
- Groin area is damp for long periods of time, such as after showering
- Taking broad-spectrum antibiotics
- Weak immune system
- Wearing tight clothing that reduces ventilation or causes friction in the area
- Contact with the spores via infected persons or objects
- Fungal infection on other parts of the body such as athlete’s foot (tinea pedis)
- Poor hygiene
- Poor overall health
Diagnosing Jock Itch
Jock itch mimics the symptoms of other vaginal skin problems such as a yeast infection or seborrheic dermatitis. It is important that the condition is properly diagnosed to prevent complications arising from using the wrong type of medication to treat it. Typically your doctor or gynecologist will be able to diagnose jock itch by visually inspecting the rash. To confirm the diagnosis, he or she may take a scraping of the rash and look at it under a microscope or send it to a laboratory for additional testing.
Treating Jock Itch in Women
Sometimes jock itch in women will go away without any medical intervention, particularly if you are in good health. The vagina contains a lot of bacterial flora that work to fight off harmful infections. For jock itch that persists, you can use a topical antifungal cream, lotion, or powder. It usually takes about 2 to 3 weeks for the infection to clear completely, so you should use the medication for the entire recommended time even if the rash goes away after a few days.
Severe cases of jock itch may require antibiotics, particularly if your immune system is compromised. Be aware, though, that prescription drugs can cause side effects. There are a number of natural remedies you can use to get rid of jock itch without the normal side effects caused by medication.
Preventing Jock Itch
Good vaginal hygiene will prevent most cases of jock itch from occurring. Keeping the groin area dry and clean prevents it from becoming a breeding ground for the fungus that causes tine cruris. Shower immediately after exercising or participating in sports and thoroughly dry the groin area. Wear loose clothing that wicks away sweat and allows for good ventilation. Do not share clothing, towels, or other personal items and always clean exercise equipment before using it.
People who have jock itch also tend to have athlete’s foot (tinea pedis), and untreated athlete’s foot is often the cause of reoccurring jock itch. If you are diagnosed with jock itch and athlete’s foot, it is important to treat both. To avoid getting athlete’s foot, always wear sandals when using public showers and swimming pools.
Inform your sexual partner that you have jock itch as soon as you are diagnosed to prevent spreading the fungus to him or her. Wash all bedding and towels in hot water using an antifungal cleaner like bleach to prevent the fungus from causing reoccurring cases of jock itch.
Facts About Jock Itch
The fungus that causes jock itch lives on the dead skin cells found on the surface of the body. These skin cells can flake off onto objects, and the fungus contained in those cells will continue to be active. If your immune system is healthy, you will not get jock itch through casual contact, such as from a toilet seat. Prolonged skin to skin contact, such as sexual activity, or wearing clothing worn by an infected person can transmit the fungus between humans.
Jock itch is just one variation of this skin infection. Tinea can occur on any part of the body including the head, hands, feet, and face. You are more likely to get jock itch if you already have the infection on another part of your body. It is important to treat all instances of the infection all at once; otherwise you risk a continuous reoccurrence of the problem.