Jock Itch

Last Updated January 2021 | This article was created by editorial staff and reviewed by Daron Gersch, MD, FAAFP


What is jock itch?

Jock itch is a fungal skin infection. It is caused by a fungus commonly found in gyms and locker rooms. Jock itch mostly affects males, although it is possible for females to get it, too. Jock itch appears as a skin rash around the groin, but can appear on your upper thigh, scrotum, penis, and anus. It is not serious. However, the itching can be extremely uncomfortable, even painful.

Symptoms of jock itch

Jock itch rash appears red, raised, and scaly around the edges. The rash itches. Like a blister, the rash can ooze fluid. The center of the rash is reddish-brown.

What causes jock itch?

Jock itch is caused by exposure to the fungus. This can happen through direct skin-to-skin contact. It also can be spread through infected clothing. The jock itch fungus grows in moist conditions, such as steamy public shower facilities and locker rooms, and in damp towels and clothing.

How is jock itch diagnosed?

Your doctor can usually tell whether the rash is jock itch by the way it looks. They also will ask you questions about your exposure to places where the rash is spread. If your doctor is uncertain, they may scrape a sample of the rash off your body to send to the lab.

Can jock itch be prevented or avoided?

The best way to avoid or prevent jock itch is to carefully dry off and wear clean, dry clothes after using a public shower facility or locker room. Be sure to wash your clothing after each exposure. Sweaty or damp clothing stuffed into a bag is the perfect environment for a fungus to grow.

Jock itch treatment

There are several things you can do on your own to treat jock itch:

  • Wash the rash with soap and water.
  • Pat the area dry (allow plenty of time for it to dry).
  • Apply an over-the-counter antifungal cream or powder to the rash.
  • Follow the directions on the cream packaging.
  • Wear clean underwear each time you apply the cream.

Living with jock itch

Once you’ve had jock itch, you should take preventive actions to avoid it in the future. Remember to dry off completely and wear clean, dry clothes after spending time at a public shower facility or locker room. Wash and dry your workout clothes after each use.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • Is athlete’s foot the same infection that causes jock itch?
  • Is jock itch the same thing as ringworm?
  • Can jock itch spread to other parts of my body?
  • Will I need an antibiotic if the blisters break open?
  • Should I avoid sexual intercourse with a partner if I have jock itch?