Jock itch is a fungal skin infection that often occurs in the warm and moist areas of the body, such as the groin and upper thighs. The infection causes a ring-shaped rash, which is red and itchy. Taking up activities that lead to excessive sweating and using public swimming pools are the most common reasons for jock itch.
The infection could be uncomfortable and irritating, but it does not pose any serious health risks. You can treat it with over-the-counter (OTC) antifungal creams and by maintaining good personal hygiene.
Read this post to learn more about jock itch, its symptoms, causes, and whether the infection is contagious.
What Causes Jock Itch In Children?
Jock itch, medically known as tinea cruris, is a fungal infection caused by any fungus from a group of fungi called dermatophytes (1) (2). Infections caused by these fungi are known as tinea infections (3).
The fungus usually lives on skin, nails, and hair. Prolonged heat and moistness in an area can cause the fungus to multiply and cause jock itch infection. When the infection occurs on the groin, upper thighs, and buttocks, it is known as jock itch. If feet are affected, it is called athlete’s foot, and if the infection occurs on the other parts of the body, it is referred to as ringworm.
Why Is It Called Jock Itch And Who Is At Risk Of Getting It?
The rash is known as jock itch, as it is most common in athletes. The following are some of the factors that can increase the risk of getting a jock rash (4).
- Boys are said to be more likely to get it than girls.
- Obese children have a high chance of developing this rash, as their skin folds provide a conducive climate for the fungus to thrive.
- Children who are physically active or sweat excessively (hyperhidrosis).
- Those who share pools or locker rooms since they might catch the fungus from others.
- Wearing tight clothing and undergarments traps the moisture and aids in the development of the infection.
- Children with a weak immune system and diabetes.
Signs And Symptoms Of Jock Itch
- Red, itchy rashes appear on the inner thighs.
- Spreads in a ring-like circular pattern, and the center appears clear.
- The edges are raised and red in color.
Your doctor would perform a physical examination to determine the infection. They would also enquire about your child’s medical history, lifestyle, and hygiene habits. A small flake of the rash may be sent for a lab test or examined under a microscope to check for the presence of fungus.
Is Jock Itch Contagious And How Long Does It Take to Heal?
Yes, jock itch can spread from one child to another through skin contact, contaminated towels, and clothing. If your child has athlete’s foot, then the fungus can travel from the feet to the groin through clothes, hands, or a towel. It can also spread from animals to humans.
Mild cases of jock itch clear up in two to four weeks. If the infection is severe and has spread to the nails and scalp, then it might take up to three months to get cured. However, studies note that the fungal spores can live on bedding and towels for a year if these are not properly washed (2). Therefore, it is essential to take proper steps to contain the skin infection.
Treatment For Jock Itch In Children
Mild infections can be cured with over-the-counter (OTC) antifungal creams and ointments. Severe infections could require prescription oral or topical medications. If the infection does not subside in two weeks with OTC medications or gets worse, then see a doctor (1).
Along with medication, you may take the following measures to help relieve the itching and discomfort.
- Wash the infected area and dry it with a clean towel.
- Change the clothing and undergarments every day.
- Avoid tight clothing that can further irritate the rash.
It should be noted that you need to continue the medication until the period prescribed by the doctor, even when the symptoms disappear, to eliminate the fungus.
Prevention Of Jock Itch In Children
- Keep groins clean and dry.
- Shower after playing sports.
- Change undergarments daily.
- Wear loose clothing during warm or humid weather.
- Choose breathable cotton undergarments and avoid tight polyester undergarments.
- Periodically wash gym outfits, sports outfits, towels, and bed sheets with warm water and detergent.
- Do not share clothes or towels with others.
- Avoid public showers or shared locker rooms as much as possible.
If someone in the family has jock itch, then keep their belongings separately to prevent the spread of infection.
Home Remedies For Jock Itch
Along with the antifungal medications, you can also follow a few home remedies to reduce the healing time. However, it should be noted that these remedies may have little scientific backing, so it is best to use them only after informing your child’s doctor.
1. Apple cider vinegar
2. Tea tree oil
Studies found that using tea tree oil twice daily could be effective in children with tinea pedis (6). Mix tea tree oil with coconut or olive oil and dab it on the rashes. Do this three to four times a day.
Turmeric’s antifungal properties are said to be useful in providing relief from the rash and itching caused by tinea infections (7). Mix turmeric with a little water and apply the mixture on the rashes.
Studies suggest that garlic exhibits antifungal properties that might be effective against dermatophyte fungi. Crush some garlic and mix it with olive oil to make it into a paste, apply it on the rashes and leave it for 30 mins (8).
5. Neem and aloe vera
Research suggests that a mixture of aloe vera and neem inhibits the growth of fungus in tinea infections (9). Grind and paste neem leaves, mix it with aloe vera gel, apply it on the rashes, and leave it for 20 mins.
Studies say that honey could be therapeutic in the treatment of tinea infections (10). Dip a clean cotton ball in honey, dab it on the rashes, and let it stay for 15 minutes before rinsing. Repeat this for three to four times a day using a new cotton ball each time.
7. Coconut oil
Coconut oil is known for its antifungal properties and can be used to quicken the healing time of jock itch. Apply virgin coconut oil on the rashes and rinse it after ten minutes. Repeat at least two to three times a day (11).
8. Lemon oil
Studies suggest that lemon oil has antifungal properties and might inhibit the growth of dermatophyte fungi (12). Add two to three drops of lemon oil in one tablespoon of coconut oil, dab it on the affected area, and leave it for 30 minutes. You can do this daily until the rashes begin to subside.
Note that these home remedies should be used in conjunction with the treatment. Also, these remedies might take time to show effect. If a home remedy causes a burning sensation or discomfort to the child, then stop using it.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can girls get a jock itch?
Although jock itch is more common in boys, girls can get it too.
- How do I know if my child’s jock itch is healing?
The jock itch is healing when the rashes and redness begin to subside, and the skin regains its original color. Also, you will find a reduction in itching and irritation.
- Can I leave jock itch untreated?
If left untreated, jock itch can spread to other body parts and to other family members. It may also lead to secondary infections.
Jock itch can be mild but annoying. If you often find your children rubbing or scratching their groins, it is best to look for signs of fungal infection. As this infection is contagious, avoid sending your child to the playground and school until the symptoms subside. It is also advised to keep their belongings separate to prevent the spread of the infection to other family members.
2. Dermatophytosis; The Center for Food Security & Public Health
3. Jock Itch (Tinea Cruris); Harvard Medical School
4. Ramdas B. Darade, Krushna K. Zambare, Nareshkumar R. Jaiswal and Amar A. Kaware; An Overview On Pharmacotherapy Of Jock Itch (Tinea Cruris); World Journal of Pharmaceutical Research
5. Judy Gopal, Antonydhason Vimala, Manikandan Muthu, and Enkhtaivan Gansukh; Authenticating apple cider vinegar’s home remedy claims: antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral properties and cytotoxicity aspect; Research Gate
6. C. F. Carson,K. A. Hammer, and T. V. Riley; Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties; American Society For Microbiology
7. Mukda Jankasem, Mansuang Wuthi-udomlert,and Wandee Gritsanapan; Antidermatophytic Properties of Ar-Turmerone, Turmeric Oil, and Curcuma longa Preparations; ISRN Dermatology
8. Farzad Aala, Umi Kalsom Yusuf, Rosimah Nulit,and Sassan Rezaie;Inhibitory effect of allicin and garlic extracts on growth of cultured hyphae; Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences.
9. Vivek Shukla, Gyan Vikas Mishra, and Mitesh Dwivedi; In Vitro Inhibition of Tinea Corporis from Various Extracts of Aloe vera and Azadirachta indica; Acta Scientific Microbiology.
10. PaulineMcLoone, MaryWarnock, and LornaFyfe; Honey: A realistic antimicrobial for disorders of the skin; Journal of Microbiology, Immunology and Infection
11. Lindsey K. Elmore, Gwen Nance, Samantha Singleton, and Luke Lorenz; Treatment of Dermal Infections With Topical Coconut Oil; Natural Medicine Journal
12. Sabrina P. M. Pinontoan, Nurmila Sunati, Befani Aditya Febriana, and Elne Vieke Rambi; Antifungal Activity of Essential Oil Extract of Lemon Cui (Citrus microcarpa) Skin against Trichophyton rubrum Growth; International Journal of Pharma Medicine and Biological Sciences
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