Anyone who has experienced any form of ringworm would be able to tell you that it is no joke. And the skin condition known as jock itch is a fungal infection that belongs to the same family of fungal infections. This is known as “Tinea”. Under this broad category, jock itch appears as tinea cruris (1).
This is the main form of ringworm or tinea that occurs on the skin, and it mainly appears around the groin, buttocks or inner thighs. Since it festers in moist environments, folds of skin are especially sensitive to this disease.
And although the name suggests that this may be an athlete related condition, it is not restricted to them. In fact, overweight people are susceptible to this disease, since the chances of this fungal infection growing in folds of skin are higher.
The symptoms used to identify this skin condition are fairly easy to spot. Commonly occurring in the regions near the groin, thighs or buttocks, they can be distinguished by the red circular forms of rash that they form (2). The skin within the ring is sometimes clearer than the boundary, which is often raised and prone to signs of dryness like cracking or peeling.
Unfortunately, this becomes a very uncomfortable skin disease to handle in public when it begins to itch persistently. This is one of the main reasons why people afflicted with the condition must visit a dermatologist at the early stages to have it treated.
People are often confused about how they come in contact with this disease, but one of its main characteristics is the ease with which it transfers from one place to another (3). This may be the case if people come in contact with people suffering from the condition, or even with objects that have been in contact with the disease. This only goes to show how contagious a skin condition jock itch can be.
Diagnosis of jock itch can take different forms but some of the easiest ways are under black light, with skin biopsies or scrape tests. Blacklight is a method often opted for by dermatologists. If the infection under observation is ringworm, then the fungal infection is most likely to glow and stand out (4).
Apart from a black light test, doctors sometimes take skin biopsies or scrape tests to determine the skin condition. Scraping a layer off the skin and examining it in the presence of potassium hydroxide helps isolate the fungal infection from the normal cells and makes it stand out.
As for treatment, doctors often recommend the use of topical creams with anti-fungal properties and ingredients. The less intense forms of such medication are often available as over-the-counter products. It is always advisable to read instructions thoroughly before applying them.
Medication prescribed by dermatologists are usually stronger and known to contain chemicals such as ketoconazole, terbinafine or grisovin (5). In case any non-prescription products contain these ingredients, it is always safer to refer to a specialist before using them. Also, oral forms of medication are assigned for more severe cases. However, they often tend to have side effects that affect the stomach or even liver.
Is Jock itch permanent?
One of the positives of treating jock itch is that it has a good record for healing, and in no way is it a permanent condition. However, without care, it has been known to repeat in cycles (6).
So if you have the habit of using wet towels, or bathing in public pools or showers and suffer from this skin condition, it is about time to make changes to your lifestyle and refrain from such activities. Jock itch festers in moist and wet conditions, so keeping the folds of your skin dry and clean is the best preventive measure you can take.
Can jock itch happen to women?
Jock itch is definitely one of those skin conditions more common in men than women since it appears to be more prone in the groin region, however, it is possible for women to contract this disease too (7). Much of what triggers this condition is excessive sweating due to activity and the presence of folds of skin. So although the chances of women being affected by jock itch are lesser, it cannot be written off.
Is jock itch an STD?
The definition of an STD or Sexually Transmitted Disease is a form of an infectious condition which can be transmitted through different forms of unprotected sexual activity (8). In this way, jock itch is ruled out as an STD. Although it is not classified as a sexually transmitted disease, there are possibilities of it being transferred from one person to another during sexual intercourse if one of them suffers from the condition.
This is because both STDs and jock itch share the similarity of being transferable through skin-to-skin contact, making them more similar to common people than they are in reality.
Does jock itch peel when healing?
Being a fungal infection that is known to spread easily, it often only appears on the outermost layers of skin. This means that during healing, it can exhibit peeling of the skin or even the scab, to reveal healthier skin which is underneath. So peeling is a good sign when it comes to the healing process of jock itches.
Can jock itch spread to other parts of the body?
Unfortunately, jock itch is amongst the most contagious skin conditions out there, belonging to the tinea family of diseases. So chances of it spreading to other parts of your body are high if you are careless when handling the infected region. Being sure to use different and dry towels after bathing, and keeping the infected area dry and clean are just small steps you can take to contain the condition.
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