Women's Health

Can Women Get Jock Itch Too?

Can Women Get Jock Itch Too?

Key Takeaways

  • In both men and women, the groin is an area that nurtures a similar environment, with ideal conditions for microbial growth.
  • Jock itch, scientifically known as Tinea Cruris, is chiefly caused by a fungus (one of three types) that belongs to the group of microbes called Dermatophytes.
  • Yeast infections in women can cause acute inflammation of the vagina, pungent and white-colored vaginal discharge, irritation, and pain.

Jock itch is a fungal or yeast infection that affects mainly men. The fact that male sufferers vastly outnumber the female sufferers often causes people to believe that women cannot experience jock itch. However, medical professionals have learned that women are not immune to these microbes. The fungal spores and yeast prefer the warm, wet groin area, where they can live and flourish. In both men and women, the groin is an area that nurtures a similar environment, with ideal conditions for microbial growth.

What Does Jock Itch in Women Look Like?

Jock itch, scientifically known as Tinea Cruris, is chiefly caused by a fungus (one of three types) that belongs to the group of microbes called Dermatophytes. Jock itch typically causes a rash in the groin area that is usually circular or wavy in nature, characterized by a free patch of skin in the center. It is surrounded by concentric circles of raised skin, which are reddish in color and have clear and toughened borders.

Female jock itch follows the same pattern as it does in males. The infection thrives in the warm and wet climate of the groin area for the same reasons. Jock itch typically occurs when:

  • Tight undergarments and/or multiple layers of clothing restrict air movement and make it difficult for the groin to breathe normally. As a result, fungal infection occurs, leading to intense itching, pain, and discomfort.
  • The sweat glands in the groin become hyperactive following exercise, and there is no outlet for the sweat to evaporate. As a result, the sweat coagulates with dead skin cells in the groin area, providing a fertile setting for the onset of jock itch.
  • Warmth and congealed sweat combine with flakes of hair and dead skin cells to cause bacterial and fungal attack. Once infected, the jock itch can be debilitating as well as embarrassing. Jock itch can also lead to other health conditions if left untreated. Therefore, it is advisable that you seek medical consult at the earliest.

Transmission of Jock Itch

Women can catch a fungal or yeast infection in three important ways.

  • Body-to-body contact with an infected person. This can either be through touching (handshakes and hugs) or through sex. Once bodily contact with an infected person takes place, the infection can easily be transferred. All that the infection needs is a perfect setting in which to grow and spread, like a sweaty groin area. This can further spread to other body parts and even cause you to experience an outbreak of yeast infection. Therefore, it is advisable that you seek out effective medical treatment at the earliest.
  • Contact with or use of infected clothing or articles (such as a towel, soap, chair, bench, public toilet, restroom, shower, and swimming pool) can lead to jock itch. It is always recommended to bring your own towel, items of clothing, and soap rather than opt to use ones available at public facilities. Moreover, always try to use disinfectants and toilet seat covers when using a public restroom. This should limit/prevent you from being infected by a case of jock itch. Always carry a bottle of hand sanitizer with you and use it often, especially when using public facilities.
  • Lack of personal hygiene (not bathing regularly or neglecting to wash hands after using the bathroom). It is important that you wash yourself on a regular basis. It is also important to always use a disinfectant solution to kill any bacterial or fungal germs on your hands. Make it a point to thoroughly wash your hands each time your fingers come into contact with the groin area. Using a hand sanitizer spray can also ensure that your hands are clean as well.
  • Transmission of spores from feet to groin following athlete’s foot, since they are caused by the same thing, can lead to the development of jock itch.

How to Avoid Jock Itch

  • Avoid sharing personal clothing, cosmetics, and toiletries. It goes without saying that sharing personal items, including cosmetics, can lead to developing jock itch. It is important that you do not share your personal items with others and thereby limit your risk of becoming infected.
  • Regular showers, especially after a strenuous day or exercise, can help you prevent infection. Following your shower, ensure that you change into a clean set of clothes and undergarments. Always make it a point to change your undergarments regularly.
  • Wear cotton underwear which are sweat-absorbent and breathable to help ensure that the groin area stays dry. While this may not be as feasible in colder climates, cotton is the top fabric choice when it comes to preventing jock itch. Cotton based garments can help your skin breathe easier and absorb excess sweat more effectively than other fabrics.
  • Always wear shoes, slippers, or sandals in public places to avoid infection. It is always a good idea to protect your feet when heading out and wash your feet thoroughly once you get back. Keeping yourself clean is the first step towards preventing the development of jock itch.

Signs and Symptoms 

  • Concentric ring-shaped rash with normal skin at the center that is raised, red, dry, scaly, and has well-defined edges. It should cause you to experience a certain degree of itching, pain, and discomfort in the affected area.
  • Rash that begins to itch or cause a burning sensation over time. As you move, you should begin to experience pain and discomfort in the groin area that can increase in intensity if left untreated.
  • Rashes concentrated around the inner thighs, near the vaginal lips, or near the anal orifice. It is quite easy to spot these rashes. If you have developed welts or rashes on your thighs, groin area, and in or around the vagina – chances are high that you have a case of Jock itch. Moreover, if you touch the groin area when it is affected and touch other parts of your body, chances are you will spread the infection to other areas as well. Therefore, it is important that you wash your hand thoroughly, or use a hand sanitizer, each time you inadvertently adjust your jock or panties to lessen the discomfort. Doing so should prevent the jock itch from being spread to other parts of the body.
  • When no preventative measures are taken and the infection is left untreated, inflammation of rash, pus-filled sores, and severe itching will occur. The rash can develop into sores and open wounds, which will only cause more pain and discomfort. Therefore, it is important to consult your doctor or opt for some OTC medicated ointment that you can apply in the localized area.
  • Dry skin and hair that does not grow. This infection is known to have an effect on the derma and hair growth. Apart from inhibiting hair growth, it is thought that this infection can also cause you to lose hair as well. Therefore, it is vital that you examine yourself carefully each time you have a bath to check for any signs of yeast or fungal infections. Since the rashes are always accompanied by itching sensation, pain, and degrees of discomfort – self-diagnosis should not be difficult. It is always a good idea to consult a doctor at the earliest.

Treatment of Jock Itch

Yeast infections in women can cause acute inflammation of the vagina, pungent and white-colored vaginal discharge, irritation, and pain. The discomfort can become so intense that it hampers a woman’s mobility. Fungal infections, if neglected, can spread to other parts of the groin like the folds of the pubis, buttocks, and the area surrounding the anus. For these reasons, it is important for women to seek treatment for jock itch.

While you can get various OTC topical lotions and ointments that can help you treat your current condition, it is always a good idea to consult a doctor. Your current infection could also be due to an underlying health condition which only serves to facilitate the fungal infection. Therefore, consulting a doctor is recommended.

Bottom Line

It is possible for women to develop jock itch. While there are several OTC medications you can opt for to treat the condition, it is still important to visit your doctor if you are experiencing the symptoms of this infection. Always practice good hygiene, wear clothes that breathe, change your clothes and undergarments regularly, and carry hand sanitizer wherever you go. Taking these precautions can help you both treat your current condition and prevent future infection.