What is Jock Itch?
Jock itch, a form of ringworm, is a fungal infection that appears in the groin, inner thighs, and buttocks. As implied by the name, jock itch typically affects athletes because of how much they sweat and the large amount of time they spend in locker rooms, where fungi flourish. The rash shows up as red bumps, sometimes with cracking or peeling skin, but always itchy.
Fungi thrive in warm, moist areas such as steamy shower rooms among damp towels, sweaty workout clothes, and wet floors. Since jock itch occurs in a dark, warm area of the body there is no question why jock itch is so common and spreads so quickly. In addition to the discomfort caused by this fungus, it is important to begin an effective treatment as soon as possible to avoid spreading the rash to other areas of your body and possibly to other people.
Athlete’s foot is caused by the same fungus as jock itch, so it is easy to get athlete’s foot and jock itch at the same time. If your foot touches the area infected with jock itch or if you walk around bare foot in a steamy shower room, you will most likely acquire athlete’s foot. The groin area is also prone to heavy sweating, which washes away fungus-killing oils. This encourages the fungus to spread more quickly, just as it would between the toes.
There are several risk factors that could cause you to have a higher chance of getting jock itch:
- You Have an Impaired Immune System – As with any infection or illness, an impaired immune system hinders the body’s ability to fight off invaders.
- You Sweat Heavily – Fungi thrive in warm, moist areas of the body, and sweating washes away the body’s natural fungi-killing secretions.
- You are Obese – Obesity causes an increase in sweat as well as additional folds in the skin for fungi to populate.
- You use Athletic Supporters that Aren’t Washed Regularly – Unwashed athletic supporters are a hotbed for fungi; you can reduce this risk by washing your athletic supporter thoroughly before each use.
- You are Male – Jock itch affects more men than women, though women can get the condition.
While these risk factors do not guarantee that you will get jock itch, they do increase your risk for this and other fungal infections.