Healthy Living

What are the Risk Factors of Jock Itch?

What are the Risk Factors of Jock Itch?

Key Takeaways

  • While the Dermatophyte class of fungi like Trichophyton and Epidermophyton floccosum are mainly responsible for jock itch, the yeast Candida Albicans plays a role in infection, primarily in women (Candidiasis).
  • Because of its contagious nature, jock itch can be passed on through physical contact with infected people and contaminated articles.
  • If left untreated, jock itch can lead to all kinds of troubles like ulcers, open sores, abscesses and cellulitis, a potentially life-threatening skin infection.

Fungal infection in the groin area is referred as jock itch. The medical term is known as Tinea cruris. It is caused by a type of fungus called dermatophytes. It grows in the form of a circle on the skin and often looks like a ring. Hence this infection is often known as "ringworm," although no worm is actually involved. The fungi are commonly found on the skin surface and nails and are usually quite harmless. Due to irritation and itching, the skin becomes red. However, under certain conditions they can multiply dramatically causing irritation and damage on the surface tissues. Tinea pedis is athlete's foot while tinea capitis is ringworm of the scalp.

If you are a male adult somewhere between 45 to 65 years old, you could be vulnerable for the onset of a fungal skin infection like jock itch. Women are by no means excluded from infection. While the Dermatophyte class of fungi like Trichophyton and Epidermophyton floccosum are mainly responsible for jock itch, the yeast Candida Albicans plays a role in infecting women (Candidiasis).

The Following Risk Factors Heighten the Chances of Jock Itch

Heat and moisture: Spells of heavy rain followed by intermittent sunshine increases humidity and make people sweat a great deal. Remaining in sweat-drenched clothing for long duration could encourage the growth of fungi. The same applies to wearing workout clothes long after gym sessions.

Sweat caked groin: Some people are prone to sweating profusely. The salts and substances excreted through the sweat mix with dead skin cells and shedding hair. This creates a benign feeding ground for fungi. The groin tightly wrapped under multiple layers of clothing gets very little air or oxygen which boosts the fungal growth. 

Lack of personal hygiene:  If the groin and genitals are not washed regularly, the risk of fungal infections are increased. The causative agents (fungi) are nearly always present in a dormant state on the skin's surface and flagging hygiene activates skin eruptions.

High Body Mass Index (BMI): Obese people are more likely to contract fungal infections. Skin folds that overhang the pubic region create more surface area for bruising skin through friction. The friction creates blisters, active areas for provoking fungal infections. The massive skin overload in obese people burdens the immune system. The sapped immune system finds it difficult to fend off aggressive fungal infections.  

Athlete’s foot infection:  Foot and groin infections are exacerbated by the same fungi, Dermatophyte. The foot infection mainly affects the webbing. The blisters and sores if left untreated, gradually worsen to inflame the skin and spread the infection. During the course of the infection, spores may travel through the hand and via undergarments to the groin. For this reason, doctors usually check the feet of people diagnosed with jock itch to confirm if there has been any cross contamination.

Public contact with infected people and items:  Because of its contagious nature, jock itch can be passed through physical contact with infected people and contaminated objects. This happens mostly in the showers, changing rooms and toilets of public places, saunas, spas, gyms and swimming pools. Sharing infected towels or soaps can also increase the chances of getting infected.

Excessive blood sugar: Diabetes inhibits the body’s ability to metabolize sugar properly which leads to the accumulation of sugar in the blood. The excessive sugar in the blood is usually eliminated through the urine. This makes diabetics very thirsty and prone to suffer from dehydrated skin. Dry and dehydrated skin encourages microbes to multiply through the infection route.

An impaired and under-performing immune system: To be born with immune deficiency is a major risk factor for acquiring skin allergies, inflammation and fungal infections. One example is HIV. The body reacts aggressively to the most common allergens that would otherwise be ignored by healthy people. Allergic rhinitis (hay fever) is another example of a genetically inherited immune deficiency which triggers skin eruptions, chronic inflammation and itching. This naturally opens up the outer layers of skin for fungal infections.  

Body hugging outfits and tight inner-wear: People who are active in sporting activities often wear tight body hugging sportswear, swimwear and genital cups by compulsion. Tight clothing prevents aeration in the groin. The constant friction of skin on skin and the rubbing of synthetic fabrics create conditions ideal for fungal infections. This is usually followed by acute inflammation of the outer skin and intolerable itching.  

Classic jock itch affects the inner thighs, groin and lower buttocks, not the genitalia themselves. Although most cases of jock itch are not contagious, cases caused by an infection may be transmitted through skin or sexual contact, sharing of swimwear or towels. It is possible to pass fungal cases of jock itch to someone else through close skin contact.

It is both embarrassing and uncomfortable. Human tendency is not to ask friends for recommendations on how to get rid of it. It is even hard to talk to a healthcare professional about it. But the truth is, anyone with an active lifestyle can have jock itch. But this condition is avoidable and treatable. There are several home remedies for reducing the discomfort and getting rid of jock itch.

Few of them are:

  1. Good hygiene
  2. Wearing comfortable cotton undergarments
  3. Applying a mixture of garlic and honey on the affected area
  4. Applying pure coconut oil many number of times
  5. Changing the washing detergent
  6. Onion paste – apply and leave it for 20 minutes. Then wash it off and pat the skin dry.
  7. Common salt and baking powder act as natural drying agents. Apply a paste, leave it for 20 minutes, then wash and pat dry.

If the condition is severe, a doctor needs to be consulted and medication has to be taken as well as applied over the affected area. Anti fungal medications will have to be applied for several days.

If left untreated, jock itch can lead to all kinds of troubles like ulcers, open sores, abscesses and cellulitis, a potentially life-threatening skin infection. If it spreads to the genitals, it can cause infection especially in uncircumcised men. Women may develop yeast infections. Jock itch yeast infection can stay for months if left untreated.