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Tinea cruris (jock itch)

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 3 minutes read

Tinea cruris (jock itch) is a common fungal skin infection of the groin. Sometimes doctors call it the medical term tinea cruris or ringworm - we should be clear it has nothing to do with worms! This fungal infection usually occurs in warm, moist areas such as the groin or in the armpit area or feet (where it is called tinea pedis or athletes foot). It produces symptoms of a rash that is usually red, sore and itchy and has clear edges that can form a ring-like pattern. It is commonly found in athletes and the elderly but can affect anyone. It is often found in the crease of the groin and can spread a short way down the upper thigh.

The majority of cases are mild and can be treated easily with over the counter antifungal creams available from your pharmacist. If the medication is for a child you will be asked to see the doctor first rather than getting an over the counter cream.

There are a number of different antifungal creams available (you will see names such as terbinafine, clotrimazole, and miconazole) so check the directions that come with each cream as it will tell you how often and how long to use it. Apply the cream to the affected area and to the non-affected skin that is up to 2 inches around the affected area.

Doctor’s advice

Is it contagious?

The condition is contagious and can be easily spread through direct skin-to-skin contact or indirectly through towels, clothing, and bedding. You should avoid sharing towels and clothing and wash your hands well after touching infected areas; wash bedding regularly to help prevent spread.

To prevent tinea cruris from recurring, wash your groin area regularly with water and dry it thoroughly. Change your underwear daily, avoid tight-fitting clothing around the area, and check your feet for any signs of athlete's foot and treat if found (see athlete foot info) as the fungus is the same, so it can spread from your feet and cause a jock itch.

Healthwords pharmacists' top tips

Many creams, powders, and sprays are very effective in helping clear up this condition. Using a spray such as Lamisil AT 1% spray can help to dry up any excess moisture from sweat and reduce friction and irritation, as well as treat the infection with a convenient once-daily application.

Am I fit for work?

If you have jock itch (tinea cruris) you are still fit for work.

When should I see my doctor?

You should arrange a routine appointment with your doctor if your symptoms are not improving after 1 - 2 weeks, if you have a temperature, or if the skin is broken or severely inflamed, as you are at risk of additional bacterial infections.

The doctor may give you a steroid cream in addition to the antifungal cream or oral medication to treat the infection. They may also take a swab to double-check that the infection is a jock itch (tinea cruris).

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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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