Diseases & Conditions Fitness & Exercise Physical Health

Jock Itch: An Athlete’s Worst Nightmare

As a medical intern this past summer, I thought I’d seen it all from the common cold to asthma to diabetes. That’s until I saw a patient with a grotesque-looking rash on his groin, which the physician diagnosed as tinea cruris. Tinea cruris, most commonly known as “jock itch,” is a fungal infection that appears as a red rash on the groin. Its cause lies in the region’s susceptibility to remaining warm and moist for extended periods of time, which is the ideal environment for fungi to grow.

Ironically enough, a few days later, I heard that term being used at my gym. One large bodybuilder (who was sweating profusely, mind you) was discussing with another how his “jock itch” was getting worse due to his genital region being constantly irritated. This second event piqued my interest and caused me to research further into this topic. To my horror, I discovered that I—along with every other athlete in the world—was at risk for acquiring this ailment. Although most common in men, this is also commonly acquired by women.

Ultimately, the dermatophytes—a particular type of parasitic fungi—that reside under our skin are the cause of the fungal infection. Normally, we keep it in check through the constant maintenance of our skin (by keeping it clean and dry). However, in damp and moist environments, the skin is more prone to infection by these same dermatophytes. Keep in mind that not every athlete has “jock itch”, and here are a few reasons why:

  • They keep themselves clean, dry, and cool
  • They refrain from sharing personal items
  • They have a strong immune system
  • They wear loose underwear
  • They do not sweat heavily
  • They wear clean attire

Overall, if you find yourself showing any symptom of jock itch, see your physician. He or she will be able to effectively diagnose it and prescribe any topical medication if needed. However, don’t stress out unnecessarily: as mentioned before, this occurs in distinct situations… Keep in mind that not every athlete will have this condition. However, if you find yourself in it, be wary! This condition is notorious for its high level of discomfort.


Article by Varun Bahl

Feature Image Source: Shutterstock