Jock itch, gym itch, athlete’s itch are the common names given to itchy red rashes in the groin area, thighs and adjacent skin, including the testicles in males. The medical name for these rashes is “tinea cruris”. Jock itch develops through sweating, and rubbing when apparel, or gym clothes seal in moisture and heat. The resulting rashes are limited to the groin, they can appear in any areas of the body’s skin that overlap, including around the rectum and in the skin folds of obese individuals. Jock itch affects mostly men and occasionally women.
Wrestlers and MMA combat athletes are at high risk for developing these bacterial and fungal rashes for the following reasons:
- Heat & humidity associated with heavy workouts in closed faculties
- Close fitting gym wear and workout clothing
- Damp skin as occurs with excessive sweating
In most cases friction is the cause of Jock itch, however several microorganisms have been identified as causing the rash as well. Common microorganisms like fungi and bacteria can infect the skin. This is particularly true of combat athletes due to the heavy skin-to-skin contact associated with the sport.
Bacterial jock itch can be easily diagnosed because the affected skin glows red color when illuminated by a black light.
Fungus can also cause Jock Itch. Contact with opponents, or contact with objects that already contain fungus can cross contaminate the skin. The fungus is spread by contact with the spores, which may survive on dead skin cells or objects for a long time.
If you have fungal infection, such as athlete’s foot, the same organism may cause contamination in your groin area.
Fungal spores like Epidermophyton floccosum and Trichophytin are often the cause for the epidemic infections in locker rooms, training facilities, and in situations where athletes work closely together. Towels, sheets, blankets, may host fungus for years.
Jock Itch: Signs and Treatment
Causes of Jock Itch
Jock itch is caused by a group of fungi called dermatophytes. These fungi naturally live on your skin and normally don’t cause problems. However, when you remain in sweat-soaked clothes after exercising, the lengthy exposure to moisture can allow the fungi to multiply quickly. When you have an overgrowth of dermatophytes in your groin area, it causes the infection known as jock itch.
The fungus that causes jock itch is highly contagious. You may get the fungal infection through close personal contact with an infected person or through contact with unwashed clothing of an infected person.
The term “jock itch” may give the impression that only athletes develop the infection, but it can occur in anyone. Those who are overweight are more likely to experience jock itch because the fungus can thrive in folds of skin, which are prone to sweating. Jock itch may also be triggered by prolonged exposure to moisture and friction from clothes.
Reasons on evolution of jock itch may also include the following:
- Moisture, warmth, and skin friction in the groin folds
- Tight, occlusive clothing and undergarments that trap in sweat
- Infections caused by fungus and yeasts: Candida (yeast), Trichophyton, and Epidermophyton (fungal molds)
- Infections by bacteria
Symptoms of Jock Itch
If you discover an itchy area of redness in a skin fold the infection has begun. Sores may develop in a random pattern. You may even see tiny pimples or pustules with parts that are red and dry. Small scales may develop.
The infection becomes more irritating as time goes by. In severe cases, the skin breaks down and the whole condition becomes very uncomfortable.
Jock itch usually begins with mild intermittent itching in the groin. The itching can get worse and become unbearable in some cases. The rash is usually on both sides of the groin and affects the folds.
The rash may become dry, rough, and bumpy, develop pus bumps, or begin to ooze. Sometimes, there is central clearing as the rash spreads outward to the thighs. The itching and rash can spread to the genitals, including the labia, vagina, scrotum, penis, and anus.
Women may also develop vaginal white discharge and yeast infections. Men may develop infections on the head of the penis, especially if they are not circumcised.
Severe cases may be very uncomfortable and develop secondary complications such as breaks in the skin, open sores, ulcers, and rarely cellulitis.
Jock Itch Self-Care
If you have minor itching and redness in the groin keep the area dry, and exposed to as much air as much as possible, and avoid tight clothes on the area.
There are any antifungal medications available without prescription. They come in cream, liquid spray, ointment, and powder forms. However some people may develop an allergic reaction to medication, stop using them if your rash seems worse.
More and more athletes are turning to natural essential oils to prevent the bacteria or fungus from proliferating in the first place. The most effective use of this technique utilizes a natural soap that contains high-grade tea tree oils and oil of eucalyptus. Defense Soap is not only extremely effective in preventing Jock Itch. The ingredients are known to stop MRSA, Impetigo, Ringworm, Herpes and Staph. That’s because the natural essential oils contained in Defense Soap not only destroy bacteria and fungus but viruses as well. With moderate to severe rashes Defense Soap provides a concentrated solution of these oils for direct application.
Prevention of Jock Itch
Both males and females should take the following steps to help avoid genital itching:
- Wear loose, natural-fiber underwear and clothing. Change underwear at least every 24 hours.
- Keep the genital area clean and dry. Use mild, natural and anti-fungal soap and rinse well.
- Use mild, unscented laundry detergents to wash your underwear.
- Dry off thoroughly after bathing and swimming. Avoid staying in wet clothing for long periods of time.
- Avoid unprotected sex, especially if you are worried that you or your partner might have an infection.
- Use cornstarch, powders to prevent friction and heat build up.
- Wear loose-fitting cotton underwear.
- Sterilize gym clothes by washing in hot soapy water with bleach.
- Maintain a healthy body weight. Heavier people suffer more with perspiration buildup in their groin area than people of lower body weight.
- Fungal infection on feet or hands should be treated promptly before it spreads to the groin or other skin areas.
- More importantly when you discover such itching please take a positive step as it is known that these infections spread when neglected and can easily be shared or transmitted to your partner unknowingly. “Prevention is better than cure” when it comes to treating you both.
Treatment of Jock Itch with Home Remedies
- One of the easiest home remedies for jock itch is to take a salted bath. Just sprinkle a good amount of salt on the hot bath and soak yourself in it for almost 15 minutes. The salt in the water will dry the blisters by soaking the liquid in it. Try this procedure 2 to 3 times a day and you will see that your jock itch will disappear. Silica is a safer choice then talcum powder since it is environmentally inert material and will keep the area dry of any moisture.
- Garlic is one of the most common home remedies for jock itch. All you need to do is blend garlic with olive oil and apply this mixture directly on the affected area. Or you can even take garlic orally.
- Tea tree oil is also effective in fighting the infection. You can apply a thin layer of tea tree oil on the affected area twice a day. Or you can even apply cooled thyme tea on the affected area by a cotton swab twice a day.
- Licorice is known to have antifungal properties. Just boil some water (one cup) and add licorice powder (six teaspoons). Stir it well and let it boil for twenty minutes. Now let it cool down and then apply it on the infected area by a cotton swab. Make it your daily routine in order to benefit from it.
- Apply freshly squeezed aloe gel from the aloe vera plant to the affected area to find relief from itching and burning, as well as to prevent further spreading of the rash.
- Put 10 drops of tea tree oil into 2 tablespoons of Calendula cream and apply this mixture twice a day.
- Stir 2 teaspoons of fresh or dried thyme leaves into 1 cup of boiling water and steep for 20 minutes. Apply cooled thyme tea to affected area twice daily with a cotton ball.
- Soak a teaspoon of sliced ginger root and a teaspoon of dried thyme in a cup of warm water. Keep it aside for a few minutes. When it cools down, apply on the infected area using a cotton ball.
- Simply add a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to a cup of water, and mix well. With the use of a clean washcloth dipped in the solution, gently dab the area with this vinegar mixture.
- Mix 2-3 drops of coconut oil with 4-5 drops if olive oil. Apply this over the affected area. It will work great combat fungal infection.
- Avoid alcohol and smoking. Do not eat processed sugars, greasy, fried and processed foods. Increase the consumption of foods that will boost your immune system and eat grains moderately. Try to keep the affected area as dry as possible. Wear cotton undergarments and wash your used towels and clothing regularly in hot water. These were some of the effective home remedies for jock itch which are easy to implement and can be tried within the comforts of your home.