What is Jock Itch?
Jock itch, also known medically as tinea cruris, is an infection that involves the groin area. The term “tinea” refers to infections that are caused by fungi, while “cruris” refers to the area around the groin. Dermatophytes are the causative agents of jock itch. These are fungi which are often found in hair, nails, and the outermost layer of the skin. Dermatophytes are often involved in skin infections because they use keratin, a protein component of the skin, as a source of energy.
Jock itch is more common in males and those who are physically active. This is because warm and moist environments are suitable for the development of dermatophytes. Infections caused by fungi are often found in skin areas that rub on each other. The skin acts as an individual’s barrier to protect it from infection. Moist environments can weaken the skin while restrictive clothing can increase the temperature within the area; thus, decreasing its protective capacity.
Clinical Manifestations and Diagnosis
Inflammation, itchiness, and increased sensitivity in the groin area, which is the lower part of the abdomen and inner upper thighs, occur when an individual has jock itch. The outermost layer of the skin around the affected area appears to be raised due to the infection. However, the penis and scrotum are often excluded from being affected.
A medical practitioner diagnoses jock itch through observation of the area and the use of potassium hydroxide preparation. The inflammation caused by fungi is categorized into three types; specifically, mechanical intertrigo, dermatophytosis, and candidiasis.
Mechanical intertrigo occurs when two skin areas rub against each other, causing irritation. Apart from that, tight clothing for various sports activities can also lead to irritation due to the friction it causes as the individual performs the activities. Sweat worsens the condition due to the environment which it provides for the fungi to grow. Because the skin softens, the outermost layer often does not peel. But, the scrotum is affected and exhibits redness as well. In contrast to that, dermatophytosis only occurs in the superficial layer of the skin. Because of this, the scrotum is not involved when an individual has jock itch. However, the outermost layer of the skin undergoes peeling in this condition.
Clinically, jock itch can appear to have similar characteristics as erythrasma; to differentiate the two diseases, a wood lamp examination is used. When erythrasma is present, the sample shows a coral red color. Furthermore, confirmatory tests for dermatophytes must be used to establish its presence in an individual and diagnose jock itch. As mentioned, this involves using a potassium hydroxide preparation. Using this allows better visualization of cells to determine the existence of fungi. Once confirmed, the treatment can be properly directed to ensure its effectiveness.
How to Get Rid of Jock Itch Quickly
Prevention is a cost-effective step to ensure that jock itch does not develop despite an individual’s active lifestyle. Fungi growth occurs in environments that are moist and warm. Because of this, individuals should wear clothing that is loose to avoid irritation of the skin caused by rubbing between two surfaces. In terms of material, individuals should choose cotton or those that can keep them dry and cool.
Before wearing clothes or protective gear, individuals should ensure that their skin is dry. Additionally, powder can be used to prevent moisture since it can absorb sweat. A lubricating cream can be applied to avoid the gear and skin from rubbing harshly against each other. After performing sports activities or experiencing excessive sweating, the individual should use an antibacterial soap to clean the area.
Applying cold compress on the affected area can help soothe the inflammation. However, for a more lasting jock itch remedy, medicated cream should be applied on the skin. The cream will address the inflammation, sensitivity, and itchiness experienced by the individual. Terbinafine and butenafine are often suggested to be applied on the area to cure jock itch.
Furthermore, steroid containing products have been developed since jock itch is often experienced by males. However, the product should have a low amount of steroid component because these can weaken the elastic tissues. Because of this, creams that are highly potent are not advised for cases of jock itch, unless necessitated by the physician. Use of such high potent creams will negatively affect the skin permanently, especially when used for two to three weeks. The skin cells will die as evidenced by a decrease in the width of the skin layer, the return of sebaceous glands to a primitive state, and death of the muscles.
The topical treatment should only be used within the duration stated by the physician, which is often only until the symptoms disappear. Treatment often lasts for two weeks. Imidazole such as clotrimazole, miconazole, and econazole nitrate is often applied on the skin twice a day. These are soluble in water, which is important because those with an oily consistency will promote softening of the skin and eventual breakdown of the layer. The use of creams that are of low potency can also cause cell death in the outermost layer of the skin; but, these are reversible when use has stopped.
In some cases, antifungal agents must be orally administered. Specifically, this is given to patients who do not respond to topical creams and those who have a weakened immune system.
With this, jock itch commonly occurs in males and those who are physically active due to the suitable environment for fungal growth which sweating and constant friction provide. However, it can be easily prevented by practicing proper hygiene such as taking a bath and changing clothes after playing sports or various activities. Wearing clothing that is breathable is also advised so that sweat is not trapped. It can also be easily treated through the use of a cream that does not contain a high amount of steroid components. Using low potent cream will prevent skin damage. Treatment often lasts for two weeks; but, if ineffective, orally administered drugs are prescribed.
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