What Does Jock Itch Look Like?
Properly diagnosing jock itch (tinea cruris) is important to treating it effectively. There are a few other skin infections that can cause the same type of skin rashes associated with jock itch, so knowing what it looks like can go a long way towards diagnosing it correctly.
Jock Itch Rash
The main symptom of jock itch is the rash that forms in the groin area. This rash is pink, red or purple in color depending on your skin tone. It is usually symmetrical with raised with sharp borders that may be edged with pimples or pustules. The center of the rash may contain healthy skin or skin that is dry and slightly discolored. The skin affected by the rash may be scaly and peel, crack, or flake.
Though jock itch can infect males and females, men and teenage boys are affected the most because of their anatomy. The rash typically appears in the folds of the skin but may also show up on the inner and upper thighs, scrotum, pubic area, anal area, and buttocks. Generally, jock itch does not occur on the penis. For women, tinea cruris may appear on the labia as well.
Jock itch can also cause itching, burning, or chafing in the affected area and emit an unpleasant smell later in the day when sweat and bacteria has invaded the area.
Jock itch is caused by a group of fungi called dermatophytes, colloquially known as ringworm. The fungus feeds on and lives in the dead skin cells found on the dermis. This is the main reason why the infection is so contagious. The dead skin cells can flake off onto objects, people, and animals and cause an infection under the right conditions.
Ringworm thrives in warm moist places on the body. People who live in warm humid climates are more prone to developing ringworm infections than people who live in cooler and dryer areas. Although the fungus that causes jock itch and other forms of tinea can be found on the skin at any time, people with healthy immune systems are better able to resist the skin infections.
Jock Itch Treatment
Treatment for jock itch begins with a correct diagnosis. Most trained medical professionals are able to identify jock itch simply by inspecting the rash. The doctor may take a sample of the rash, put it in some potassium hydroxide, and look at it under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis. Certain types of dermatophytes glow under ultraviolet light, so the doctor may inspect the rash using a Wood’s light. In some cases, further testing may be required and the doctor will send the scrapings to a laboratory for a culture.
Despite being common and contagious, jock itch is easily treated with an antifungal cream or lotion. You doctor may prescribe or recommend an antifungal product, but many prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications cause side effects. For a natural remedy that doesn’t cause more uncomfortable symptoms to develop, take a look at the best jock itch remedies we reviewed and recommend.