Jock itch, medically designated as Tinea Cruris, is a commonly occurring fungal infection that gives rise to redness, pain, swelling, itching and irritation in the skin. The typical signs of sore rashes with flaking and scaling predominantly develop in the warm, moist concealed portions of the body – the inner thighs, groin, buttocks, owing to excessive sweating and resultant trapping of moisture. The causative microorganism is a mould, belonging to the group of fungal specimens known as dermatophytes, which tend to reside on the surface of the body, particularly in the skin, hair and nails.
Although this itchy condition affects both men and women, it predominantly develops in young boys and men who play sports that involve flexing the legs frequently against tight clothes, such as track and field athletes and football players. This infection and irritation in the thighs arises often in individuals who suffer from excessive sweating and obesity as well. In most instances, jock itch is a relatively harmless ailment that can be effectively resolved through prompt diagnosis and proper treatment with antifungal medicated creams applied on the affected areas, besides maintaining hygienic, dry conditions in the skin.
Causes Of Jock Itch:
The pathogenic microorganism that triggers a jock itch is a class of mould-based fungus known as dermatophytes. Dermatophytes cause many kinds of fungal infections in various parts of the system, such as the scalp known as tinea capitis, on the bodily skin known as tinea corporis etc. When it prompts itching and swelling in the feet, it is known as athlete’s foot disease.
Dermatophytes are fungi that inherently inhabit the surface of the human body, in areas of the skin, nails, hair and when present in normal dry environments do not lead to infection. However, when too much sweat gets trapped within the skin tissues in the thighs, such as while wearing tight clothes and stepping out on a hot day, remaining in soiled garments after playing sports or exercising, working out, then the fungi propagate rapidly and this results in the groin infection termed jock itch.
People predisposed to excessive sweating in the folds of their skin in the thighs, like in hyperhidrosis or obesity, are also more likely to develop jock itch in their inner thighs and groin regions. The fungal infection that develops from an overgrowth of dermatophytes can spread from an affected person to a normal individual through direct contact while playing a sport and colliding with each other or encountering the contaminated clothes worn by the person which carries the germs.
The distinguishing signs of jock itch arise mainly in the inner thighs, besides the groin - the intersection between the abdomen and thighs and comprise the following:
- Prominent rashes on the skin in thighs
- Swelling, redness in the groin
- Skin in the inner thighs begins to undergo peeling and flaking
- Constant scratching in the groin
- Tenderness and pain in the thighs
- A change in the natural skin colour owing to fungal infection
- Discomfort in the thighs while walking, running and jogging
Diagnosing jock itch is usually a straightforward process wherein the healthcare provider inspects the visual signs in the groin, inner thighs and determines the presence of fungal infection from a proliferation of dermatophyte moulds. The physician also conducts a full physical examination to determine if there are signs of infection in other parts of the skin in the body.
In certain instances, the doctor collects a sample of skin tissue from the affected region of the inner thighs and examines it carefully, to ensure that the infection is only due to fungal growths in jock itch and not from other skin disorders such as psoriasis.
Jock itch is not a serious illness that requires hospitalization or has grave complications and can be easily treated at home upon following the doctor’s advice. The medical expert initially recommends over-the-counter antifungal medications in the form of ointments, powders, creams for topical application regularly after cleansing the area.
Yet, some people present with more serious fungal infection from jock itch, which occurs alongside athlete’s foot. In such cases, the doctor suggests prescription antifungal medicines to be applied topically on infected skin like lotions and gels, as well as tablets to be ingested, to entirely resolve all symptoms of jock itch.
Basic personal hygiene practices of keeping the body clean and dry post gym workouts, playing sports or undue sweating, as well as wearing washed clothes that are a comfortable fit and not too tight help prevent jock itch.