Jock Itch

November 12, 2012

Jock Itch

Jock itch is a fungal infection caused by Trichophyton rubrum. The condition affects warm and moist regions of the skin, ideal for the growth of the pathogen. Men are at a greater risk of jock itch than women.

Trichophyton rubrum

Trichophyton rubrum is a translucent fungus with branching, rod-shaped hyphae that taper at the end. Some hyphae have bubbles within their walls that help distinguish it from hair. The fungus grows on the dead skin cells in the warm and moist regions of the skin such as groin and toes. Sweaty, wet clothes in summer and multiple layers of clothing in winter may cause increased incidence of jock itch.


Jock itch usually begins in the folds of the groin on both the sides, and advances down the inner thighs. The newer parts of the rash are redder and raised compared to areas that were infected longer. It is easy to identify the advancing edge of the rash due to its scaly texture as well. The older portions of the rash turn reddish-brown and smooth.

Rashes Similar to Jock Itch

There are several infections that resemble jock itch.

  • Candida albicans, or yeast, infection may cause symptoms similar to jock itch. However, this fungus may infect penis and scrotum, unlike Trichophyton rubrum which does not infect them.

  • Intertrigo, which is characterized by red, macerated rash at the groin fold, is commonly seen in obese individuals due to frequent rubbing of moist skin. This disease is not caused by a fungus. The infection causes cracks in the skin that can be extremely painful and become susceptible to secondary infections.

  • Erythrasma is a bacterial infection that mimics jock itch. The rash begins in the groin and progresses to the thigh. It is brown in color without scales and blisters.


After a thorough physical examination, your doctor may recommend microscopic analysis of skin scrapings to look for translucent, branched hyphae. A few drops of potassium hydroxide are added to slide containing the skin scrapings and heated. The material on the slide is stained with special stains such as Chlorazol Fungal Stain, Swartz Lamkins Fungal Stain, or Parker’s blue ink to see the hyphae.


Treatment of jock itch involves topical creams or ointments as the fungus only affects the top layer of the skin. Certain antifungals such as tolnaftate, clotrimazole, and miconazole can be purchased at the local pharmacies without a prescription. Other medications may require approval from your doctor. Topical steroid creams may be applied under the guidance of a physician. The creams are applied twice a day for at least two weeks, or as directed by the physician.


You may take several simple steps to prevent jock itch. Loose-fitting clothes made from materials such as cotton that tend to absorb the moisture from the skin are recommended. Do not share towels and clothes with infected individuals. Allow the groin to dry completely after shower before wearing clothes. You may also use antifungal powders once a day to prevent jock itch.


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