What Is Tinea Cruris?

By amara
Article Sources Article Sources
  • 1. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2020, March 4). Jock Itch. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/jock-itch/symptoms-causes/syc-20353807
  • 2. DermNet NZ. (2003). Tinea Cruris. https://dermnetnz.org/topics/tinea-cruris/
  • 3. Pippin, M. M., Madden, M. L. (2020, June 25). Tinea Cruris. StatPearls [Internet]. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554602/
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If you find a rash in or adjacent to your groin area, you may have tinea cruris. More commonly known as jock itch, this fungal infection often appears as a rash in areas of the body that tend to retain sweat and heat.1Mayo Clinic Staff. (2020, March 4). Jock Itch. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/jock-itch/symptoms-causes/syc-20353807 The rash may start as a circular patch and radiate out to the inner thighs.

While tinea cruris is irritating and certainly not a problem you want to ignore, it is rarely considered a serious ailment. There is the possibility of certain complications, but with treatment and effective preventative measures to keep the problem from returning, you should be able to get rid of the rash.

1. Causes

The rash is caused by a dermatophyte fungus, which is a type of ringworm.2DermNet NZ. (2003). Tinea Cruris. https://dermnetnz.org/topics/tinea-cruris/ Trichophyton and epidermophyton are the most common causes of tinea cruris, but there are several fungi that can produce jock itch. This is the same type of fungus that causes athlete’s foot.

Like most fungi, dermatophyte species thrive in moist, warm places. This makes the groin area particularly vulnerable to jock itch. The greater number of risk factors you have, the more likely you are to contract tinea cruris.

Tinea Cruris

2. Risk Factors

Tinea cruris is a common affliction among athletes. No matter what sport you play, vigorous activity tends to make you sweat a lot, and this naturally increases the amount of moisture that can accumulate in certain areas of your body. If the moisture is allowed to remain, it can lead to problems. Tinea cruris tends to be more prevalent in males, particularly in male teens and young adults.

You don’t have to be an athlete to get jock itch, though. Any condition that increases your sweat output, such as obesity, or weakens your immune system, such as diabetes, can put you at a higher risk for infection.3Pippin, M. M., Madden, M. L. (2020, June 25). Tinea Cruris. StatPearls [Internet]. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554602/

3. Transmission

Dermatophyte fungi are easily transmitted. An infection that starts on your feet as athlete’s foot can be spread if you scratch the affected area and then touch another part of your body. You can also get or exacerbate tinea cruris by drying the groin area with a towel that you previously used to dry an infected area of the body.

This fungus can also be transmitted from person to person. If you share towels or clothing with someone who has tinea cruris, you may become infected yourself.

Tinea Cruris

4. Diagnosis

Diagnosis of tinea cruris is usually pretty straightforward. Your doctor will likely be able to identify the problem just by looking at the rash. If he or she is unsure, a swab of the infected area can be taken to deliver to the lab for further testing and confirmation.

Because dermatophytes are not the only fungi that lead to rashes, your doctor may want to rule out other potential causes before recommending a particular treatment. For example, if the patient is a woman or if it has spread to the penis, the physician may want to consider a candidiasis diagnosis instead. Knowing what exactly is causing the rash is essential for effective treatment.

5. Signs & Symptoms

Tinea cruris appears as a rash or blisters on the skin in the groin area. It can start in folds of the skin that trap moisture, but it often fans out in a half-moon-shaped pattern to the inner thighs.

One way to distinguish between jock itch and other rashes is by inspecting its appearance. Tinea cruris usually appears in a ring with blisters, which is the same thing you would see if you had ringworm on your arm or another area of your body. It can, of course, break out of the ring and spread, but a round patch is usually a clear indication of jock itch.

Tinea Cruris

6. Complications

If you catch tinea cruris early, visit your doctor and get treated, the rash should go away within a few weeks. When you have close contact with others who are infected or do not take the appropriate measures to get rid of the rash, the problem may be difficult to get rid of and may cause other issues.

You should make an appointment with your doctor if the rash becomes painful or you develop a fever. It can also lead to permanent skin damage if not treated. The key is to take care of it as soon as you know that it’s a problem.

7. Treatment & Management

The most common treatment for jock itch is a topical antifungal cream or powder. Some of these medications may be available over the counter, but a prescription from your doctor is likely to be more effective.

If the topical treatment is not sufficient, your doctor may prescribe an oral medication to supplement it. It is important to keep your doctor informed about the progress of treatment to see if you need to pursue more aggressive options.

Tinea Cruris

8. Prevention

Prevention is the best way to stay rash-free. If you are an athlete, it is vital that you not only bathe after every workout but also dry your groin area thoroughly with a clean towel to control moisture. Do not share towels or clothing, and if you have athlete’s foot, dry your feet with a different towel than you use on the rest of your body.

Clothing choice can also be helpful in prevention. Wear clothes that fit well and allow moisture to be wicked away from the skin. Change out of sweaty clothing as soon as possible, and choose options made with natural fibers that breathe well whenever possible.

9. Prognosis

If you are diagnosed early and follow your doctor’s recommendations faithfully, you can reasonably expect that the rash will go away within a few weeks of starting treatment. Then, as you commit to prevention measures, you can keep the rash from coming back.

However, whenever patients fall back into bad habits, such as sharing towels or reusing dirty towels, they are likely to be infected again. If you see frequent recurrences, examine your habits to see what behavior you can change to minimize your risk.

10. When to See a Doctor

If you are certain that tinea cruris is the cause of your rash, you can try over-the-counter creams, and that may get rid of the problem. Because rashes in the groin area can have other causes, however, making an appointment with your doctor for an accurate diagnosis is always a good idea.

It is especially crucial to see your doctor if the treatment plan doesn’t work or if the problem gets worse. If the rash goes from being merely itchy to becoming painful, your doctor may want to try other methods to reduce symptoms and take care of the fungus. Always follow the treatment plan your doctor gives you closely, and don’t be afraid to ask any questions you may have.

Tinea Cruris

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