The good news is that jock itch is rarely serious and easily treatable disorder. Since it’s nothing more than a fungal infection on the outside of your body, it can be killed with the help of topical medications.
There are lots of good over-the-counter products designed specifically for jock itch, so in many cases you won’t even need to go to the doctor. Read on to learn how you can beat jock itch quickly, cheaply, and discretely.
A Jock Itch Refresher
Although we cover this condition extensively in our handy guide to jock itch, here’s a brief review.
Jock itch, also known as tinea cruris or ringworm, is a fungal skin infection that affects the entire crotch zone. Jock itch manifests as an itchy, clearly defined, reddish rash.
This skin condition is called “jock itch” because it commonly occurs in male athletes. However, it also affects people who are overweight, diabetic, or have a weakened immune system. Young, healthy individuals and women may also be affected.
Jock itch is often associated with heavy sweating, tight clothing, and frequent friction or direct rubbing of skin against skin. Fungal infection and rashes may also affect any area where skin overlaps, like under large breasts or the armpits.
Treating Your Jock Itch
Most fungal skin infections an be treated at home with simple home remedies and over-the-counter antifungal products.
However (and we can’t stress this enough) it’s wise to have a doctor examine any skin infection which is very severe or seems resistant to treatment.
Antifungal Creams, Powders, and Sprays
If your jock itch is very mild or you’ve caught it early on, you might be able to treat it by washing the affected area twice a day withan antifungal shampoo or soap like Selsun Blue or the delightfully-named Funga Soap.
In most cases, your best best is to treat the infection with a combination of antifungal shampoo and antifungal product containing stuff like tolfnaftate, terbinafine, or clotrimazole. These are the active ingredients in products like Tinactin or Lotrimin. Generic versions of these drugs are much cheaper and work just as well.
These products all have different active ingredients, but at the end of the day they’re all fungicides and are all very effective. We’ve tried every kind of anti-fungal goo on the market and they all produce good results (when used properly).
While many of these products come in sprays and powders, we recommend the creams. In our personal (and admittedly non-scientific) experience, the sprays can burn if your rash is severe. Plus, both powders and sprays can be difficult and messy to apply to your manly underparts.
We also recommend picking up a good zinc oxide ointment. We’ve found that this can do wonders for itching, chafing, and sweating. We’re partial to a diaper-rash product called Boudreax’s Butt Paste (really) but any decent zinc oxide cream should do.
Bacterial Jock Itch
Although less common, bacterial infection may cause jock itch. This can be treated with antibacterial skin washes such as Lever 2000 or Hibiclens (chlorhexidine) twice a day.
Moderate bacterial skin infections may be treated with antibacterial soap and topical antibiotics like metronidazole (Flagyl) or clindamycin lotion. Severe infections may need a 5 to 14-day course of oral antibiotics in addition to antibacterial soaps and lotions. You’ll need to see your doctor to get antibiotics.
How to Use Jock Itch Products
Using most jock itch products is not difficult: just smear the stuff on the affected area a once or twice a day (as directed). However, you can increase the effectiveness by making sure you read the directions and following a few simple guidelines:
- After washing, make sure your crotch is completely dry
- Apply your antifungal cream liberally, making sure to go well beyond the affected areas
- Rub in some zinc oxide cream to keep skin dry and prevent chafing
- If the itch is getting to you, slap on a little steroid cream
And the Itching?
While treating the itch isn’t necessary, it’s not a bad idea since it prevents you from digging around down there and making things worse. The last thing you want is to break the skin and open the doors for additional infections.
In most cases, itching can be alleviated with a simple over-the-counter steroidal creams. As long as you get one with an active ingredient of 1% hydrocortisone you are golden. As with the anti-fungal creams, generics are cheaper and work great.
Some brands have extra anti-itch ingredients like aloe and vitamin E. These are fine as long as you see that hydrocortisone 1% is listed somewhere on the box.
For severe itching, a prescription product (like triamcinolone) can may be necessary.
Other Things That Will Help
In addition to antifungal products, there are a number of small steps you can take to help treat and prevent your jock itch.
- Wash the affected skin 2-3 times a day with gentle, non-soap cleansesr like Cetaphil or Dove
- After bathing, apply powder to the affected areas
- Wear cotton underwear to prevent skin irritation
- Avoid bleaches, fabric softeners, or harsh detergents
- Avoiding tight clothing and underwear
- Change out of wet swim suits, sweaty underwear, or workout clothes as soon as possible
When to Call a Doctor
You should call a doctor if these conditions occur:
- Your symptoms persist one to two weeks after proper hygiene and used of OTC antifungal medications
- Your symptoms worsen despite medical treatments
- You have symptoms that may not be related to jock itch (e.g. a sexually transmitted disease)
- Symptoms of advancing skin infection occur, such as fever, chills, pain, spreading rash, draining sores, pus formation, and appearance of red streaks on the abdomen.