April 20, 2014
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Tinea Cruris (Jock Itch)

(Jock Itch, Groin Ringworm)

The Facts on Tinea Cruris (Jock Itch)

Tinea cruris, commonly referred to as jock itch, is a fungal infection in the groin area. It affects mostly adult men. It's caused by a type of fungus called dermatophytes. It grows in a circle on your skin and often looks like a ring. Due to irritation, the skin becomes red.

Some people think the infection looks like there is a worm under the skin. Because of this, this infection is often referred to as "ringworm," although no worm is actually involved. The fungi are commonly found on the skin surface and nails and are usually quite harmless. Under certain conditions, however, they can multiply dramatically, causing irritation and surface tissue damage.

You don't have to be athletic to get jock itch. Infections caused by these organisms go by the medical name tinea. Tinea pedis is athlete's foot; tinea capitis is ringworm of the scalp. Jock itch is tinea cruris, from the Latin word for leg. They are all caused by dermatophytes - only the infected area differs.

Classic jock itch affects the inner thighs, groin, and lower buttocks, not the genitalia themselves. If the scrotum is inflamed, it's probably due to a different yeast condition called candidiasis, and a physician should be consulted.

Causes of Tinea Cruris (Jock Itch)

Dermatophytes like to grow on skin that's moist and warm and thrive in areas where skin comes into contact with other skin, such as the groin or between the toes. Overweight men are more likely to develop jock itch if they sweat a lot or have folds of touching skin. Tight clothing and hot, humid weather are other risk factors.

Men who play sports and use a male athletic guard are particularly prone to tinea infection. Sweaty equipment left in a locker makes an ideal environment for tinea to grow. The fungi can live on towels, floors, carpets, and toilet seats. Sharing towels, combs, and shoes can easily transmit fungal infections.

Since the same dermatophytes can cause different types of tinea, it is not uncommon for someone with athlete's foot to get jock itch by towelling his feet before his groin.





Symptoms and Complications of Tinea Cruris (Jock Itch)

Tinea is often painful or itchy, but not in every case. There are visual clues to help identify a fungal infection. These include:

  • inflammation of the groin, anal area, and upper thigh - not including the genitals themselves
  • slightly raised patch
  • sharp borders
  • expanding or spreading, with clearing in the centre
  • dry or scaly blisters (occasionally oozing or crusting)
  • abnormally dark or light skin
  • skin redness or inflammation

Fungal infections often spread out in a circle, leaving normal-looking skin in the middle. At the leading edge of the infection the skin is raised, red, and scaly.

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