- What causes the itch?
- Is this serious?
- Fighting the fungus
Ever experienced a continuous itch in uncomfortable places? Common as it is, it isn't something that is discussed very frequently. Such an itch can be difficult to handle because scratching isn't usually a comfortable option and could cause some embarassment. Many of us hesitate to seek immediate medical help, often worsening the condition. The fact that we do not usually understand what it is or what causes it only makes things even less comforting.
Tinea Cruris, or Jock Itch as it is commonly known, is a fungal infection of the skin on the groin, inner thighs and the skin in the anal region. It is characterised by a rash near the groin that may spread to the upper thighs and flaky, peeling skin near the genitals. Jock itch is caused by fungi called dermatophytes that thrive in moist, humid conditions and is more common in men, though women, too, can suffer from Tinea Cruris.
What causes the itch?
Dermatophytes are present in our skin. These fungi are kept in check by our bodies most of the time. However, when certain areas in our bodies become moist and prone to a lot of perspiration, the fungi multiply and cause fungal infection. Since we sweat a lot in the groin and inner thigh, these fungi find the region an easy breeding place.
Activities that cause a lot of perspiration make it more favorable for Jock itch to occur. Hence, it is very common among athletic people. However, Jock Itch can occur in almost anyone. The biggest factor favorable for its occurrence is moisture and anybody who does not keep the groin dry and clean is prone to get the fungal infection. Wearing tight or ill-fitting clothes, specially underwear, and not changing them frequently cause Jock Itch. Walking, running or performing other activities where clothes rub against the rash aggravates it, causing more itching.
People who are obese or diabetic are also more prone to developing tinea cruris as are people with weakened immune systems. The itch can also be caused by spread of the fungi from other fungal infections in the body, such as athletic foot. It can also be transmitted from one person to another by sharing of clothes and personal items such as soaps and towels.
While in many cases, the rash comes and goes away, it sometimes lingers on for weeks and months altogether, spreading to the thighs and anal region, causing great discomfort. The infection is characterised by a pink rash with elevated edges, flaking and peeling of the skin in the area and tiny bumps on the hair follicles in the groin region. One may also experience a burning sensation besides the regular itch. All in all, it is extremely discomforting.
Is this serious?
Thankfully, Jock Itch is not very serious and rarely develops complications. However, the longer it is neglected, the longer the fungi will continue to thrive. It is a very common condition and can be treated easily. Too much of scratching may, however, cause bruises and wounds which could then be prone to infection. Given the area in which the rash develops, it can get very uncomfortable specially in the company of other people.
Many of us hesitate to seek immediate medical attention, only allowing the fungal infection to develop all the more. Since Jock Itch is a topic we do not normally talk about, it is only natural that when we do get it, we do not understand what it is. It is a very common infection and easily curable with over-the-counter anti-fungal ointments and soaps. However, it is best to consult a dermatologist or a physician at the earliest.
Fighting the fungus
There are certain measures that can be taken against tinea cruris. If you visit a doctor, you will most probably be prescribed anti-fungal cream, powder or spray. In addition to this, there are various measures you can take to get rid of that fungus and to prevent it.
- Keep your groin area clean and dry. Bathe regularly, specially after activity that causes perspiration. Use a separate towel for the groin region and inner thighs and make sure you rub them dry after a bath.
- Take enough protective measures to help your medication: apply your medication, use an anti-fungal soap and change your inner-wear regularly.
- Wear loose cotton underwear that does not cause a lot of perspiration in the groin region. As long as you are on medication, you may be advised not to wear underwear. Also, stick to loose and light clothing that allow for air circulation so as not to aggravate the rash.
- Make it a habit not to share personal items such as towels or soap with anyone. Fungal infections spread easily through such objects.
- Fungal infections in other parts of your body, such as Athlete's Foot, should be treated at the earliest because fungal infections can spread from one part of the body to the other.
Certain simple medication is helpful in getting rid of Tinea Cruris. However, it can recur at any time and can happen to just about anyone. Basic hygiene, comprising of regular bathing and drying combined with wearing clean, comfortable clothes can prevent the occurrence or re-occurrence of Jock Itch and will save you a lot of discomfort, not to mention plausible embarrassment.