Itchy crotch is mostly a fungal infection of the skin. Microscopic fungi naturally live on the skin as well as on the hair and nails. They are typically harmless, but they can multiply quickly and cause infections when allowed to thrive in warm, moist areas. This is why this condition usually develops in the skin around the groin, inner thighs, and buttocks.

Itchy crotch is most common in men and adolescent boys. The infection causes a rash that often itches or burns. The affected areas can also be red, flaky, or scaly. The condition is also more frequently seen in the homeless, as they do not wash with soap and water in the groin and armpit areas as regularly.

Treating it quickly will minimize symptoms and keep the infection from spreading. Most people find relief simply by applying topical antifungal medications and by keeping the affected area clean and dry.

Itchy Crotch – Meaning

Jock itch causes

Itchy crotch

This problem is the popular name given to an itchy rash in the groin that commonly involves the inner thighs and adjacent skin, including the scrotum in males. The medical name for rash in the creases of overlapping skin is intertrigo. Itchy crotch is associated with sweating, friction, tight clothing, and the direct rubbing of skin on skin.

The rash may affect not only the groin, but it can involve any areas of skin that overlap, including around the anus and in the skin folds of fluffy individuals. The problem affects men and occasionally women worldwide.

Major risk factors include the following:

  • Heat
  • Humidity
  • Tight clothing
  • Damp skin folds

Although several micro-organisms have been identified as the cause of the rash, many cases are non-infectious and are induced by environmental and physical factors that irritate the skin. Other skin diseases may imitate this condition. They include:

  • Psoriasis
  • Allergic contact dermatitis,
  • Hidradenitis suppurativa
  • Dandruff (seborrheic dermatitis).

Itchy crotch Related Symptoms

Common symptoms of this condition may include:

  • redness in the affected area
  • persistent itching in the affected area
  • burning sensation in the affected area
  • flaking, peeling, or cracking skin in the affected area
  • a rash that gets worse with exercise or activity
  • changes in skin color
  • a rash that does not improve or even worsens or spreads with over-the-counter hydrocortisone (anti-itch) cream

Itchy crotch typically affects the groin and inner thighs. It may spread to the abdomen and buttocks, but the scrotum usually is not affected.

Itchy crotch Causes

This condition is more common in men than in women simply because the presence of male genitalia leads to increased friction and humidity. Women are actually predisposed to develop a similar condition underneath their breasts. Jock itch is most often caused simply by non-infected skin affected by friction, humidity, and heat as we have discussed above. However, it is not uncommon for micro-organisms like fungi and bacteria to simultaneously infect the skin.

  • People taking broad-spectrum antibiotics – those with weakened immune systems, or those who have diabetes are at risk to develop the rash in their groin.
  • Though occasionally, bacteria can cause this problem. Bacterial jock itch can be easily diagnosed because the affected skin glows a coral red color when illuminated by a black light.
  • Wearing tight clothes or athletic supporters – this can predispose one to infection or aggravate the problem further. Itchy crotch can be prevented by applying large amounts of lubricant, like petroleum jelly, to areas likely to be affected.
  • Intimate contact or contact with objects that harbor fungus can contaminate the groin skin. The infecting fungus is spread by contact with the spores, which may survive on dead skin cells or objects for a long time.
  • If you have fungal infection, such as athlete’s foot, the same organism may cause a rash in your groin. Infections Candida albicans can produce pustules and involve the tip of the uncircumcised penis. This infection is seen more often in people with diabetes. Fungal molds like the Epidermophyton floccosum and Trichophytin species are occasionally responsible for the epidemic infections in people who live close together and in which towels, sheets, blankets, and other items may harbor a fungus for years.

Itchy Crotch Female

Jock itch in females

Causes of itchy crotch

Vaginal itching is an uncomfortable and sometimes painful symptom that usually occurs due to irritating substances, infections, or menopause. It may also occur as a result of certain skin disorders or STIs. Although in rare cases, vaginal itching might develop due to stress or vulvar cancer.

Most vaginal itching is not a cause for concern. However, you should contact your doctor or gynecologist if the itching is severe or if you have an underlying condition. Your doctor can determine the cause of the itching through an examination and testing. He will also be able to recommend appropriate treatments for this uncomfortable symptom.

Causes of itchy crotch in female

Here some of the possible causes for itchiness of the vagina and the surrounding area.

Irritants

Exposing the vagina to irritating chemicals can cause itching. These irritants may trigger an allergic reaction that creates an itchy rash over various areas of the body, including the vagina. Common chemical irritants include soap, topical contraceptives, creams, ointments and many more. Those with diabetes or urinary incontinence, their urine may also cause vaginal irritation and itching.

Skin diseases

Some skin diseases, such as eczema and psoriasis, can cause redness and itching in the genital region. Atopic dermatitis (eczema) is a rash that primarily occurs in people with asthma or allergies. The rash is reddish and itchy with a scaly texture. It may spread to the vagina in some women with eczema. Psoriasis is a common skin condition that causes scaly, itchy, red patches along the scalp and joints. At times, outbreaks of these symptoms can occur on the vagina area.

Yeast infection

Yeast is a naturally occurring fungus that is normally present in the vagina. It usually doesn’t cause problems, but when its growth goes unchecked, itchy crotch infection can result. Vaginal yeast infection is a very common condition, affecting 3 out of 4 women at some point in their lives.

The infection often occurs after taking a course of antibiotics, as these types of medications can destroy good bacteria along with the bad bacteria. The overgrowth of yeast in the vagina can result in uncomfortable symptoms, including itchy crotch, burning, and lumpy discharge.

Bacterial vaginosis (BV)

This is another common reason for vaginal itchy crotch. Like a vaginal yeast infection, BV is triggered by an imbalance between naturally occurring good and bad bacteria in the vagina. When symptoms do appear, they typically include vaginal itchy crotch and an abnormal, foul-smelling discharge. The discharge may be thin and dull gray or white. In some cases, it might also be foamy.

Sexually transmitted diseases

Numerous STDs can be transmitted during unprotected sexual intercourse and cause itching in the vagina. These conditions can also cause additional symptoms, including abnormal growths, green or yellow vaginal discharge, and pain while urinating.

Menopause

Women who are going through menopause or who have already done so are more at risk for vaginal itching. This is due to the reduction of estrogen levels that occur during menopause, which leads to vaginal atrophy. This is a thinning of the mucosa that can lead to excessive dryness. The dryness can cause itching and irritation if you don’t get treatment for it.

Stress

Physical and emotional stress can cause vaginal itching and irritation, though this isn’t very common. It might occur when stress weakens your immune system, leaving you more prone to the infections that cause itching.

Itchy Groin Area Female

Itchiness in the groin is caused by a fungal infection of the skin of the groin – the area between the thighs and torso. These infections are common and can extend to the external genitalia or the upper part of the inner thigh. Jock itch as it is known is just another form of athlete’s foot – one arises on the groin area while the other is seen on the genitalia.

The correct medical term for this type of fungal infection is tinea cruris but apart from jock itch, it is also known by many common names across the globe such crotch itch, gym itch, groin ringworm and dhobie itch.

A fungal infection of the groin or itchy crotch is more likely to arise with some underlying skin disease. A common predisposing factor in this regard is intertrigo. This is more common in obese women where the skin folds provide two opposing surfaces for abrasion.

Another factor in terms of chaffing is tight underwear which may irritate the skin in the area and make it prone to a fungal infection. Also, the groin area is generally warm and moist as it is covered for most of the day and this provides the ideal conditions for fungi to thrive.

How to Treat Jock Itch

How to get rid of jock itch

Jock itch treatment

Those who are overweight are more likely to experience jock itch because the fungus can thrive in folds of skin, which are prone to sweating. As a preventive measure, it is important to wash with soap and water in the groin and armpit areas daily. Jock itch may also be triggered by prolonged exposure to moisture and friction from clothes.

How is jock itch diagnosed?

Your doctor will likely be able to diagnose jock itch simply by performing a physical exam and inspecting the affected area of skin. In some cases, your doctor may take some scrapings of skin cells from the area to help with diagnosing the condition. This may also help rule out other skin disorders, such as psoriasis.

How is jock itch treated?

In most cases, jock itch can be treated at home effectively. You can try the following remedies to get rid of the infection:

  • Apply an over-the-counter antifungal cream, powder, or spray to the affected area.
  • Again, using an over-the-counter anti-itch cream like hydrocortisone will make jock itch worse.
  • Wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and warm water.
  • Dry the affected area thoroughly after bathing and exercise.
  • Change clothes and undergarments every day.
  • Wear loose cotton clothing.
  • Treat any other fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot.

When should I see my doctor about jock itch?

If your symptoms don’t improve after two weeks of home treatments, you should make an appointment to see your doctor. You may have developed a secondary infection that needs prompt treatment.

If you do have jock itch, but it’s not responding to over-the-counter medications and home remedies, your doctor may prescribe something stronger.

How to Treat Jock Itch

Jock itch usually responds to self-care within a couple of weeks by providing some basic practices, such as:

  • Keep the skin clean and dry in the groin area. When cleaning the area, dry with a clean towel. It’s important that you don’t use the same towel on the rest of your body. Use a separate, clean towel instead.
  • Don’t wear clothing that rubs and irritates the area.
  • Shower immediately after athletic activities.
  • Don’t scratch!
  • Wear loose-fitting underwear.
  • Wash athletic supporters frequently.
  • Change your clothes, especially undergarments, daily.
  • Avoid heavily perfumed fabric conditioners and washing powders, as they may cause additional irritation.
  • Treat any other fungal infections you may have, such as athlete’s foot, because they’re similar and can cause the problem to linger, reoccur and spread if not treated.
  • Before trying over-the-counter antifungal or drying powders, which can contain lots of chemicals, try a natural remedy.
  • If it doesn’t get better within a few weeks, you may need to see your doctor to discuss your options.

Itchy crotch Treatment

When a cause can be found, the cause can be treated and the itch improves. However, depending on the underlying cause, sometimes prolonged or repeated treatment may be needed for itchy crotch. Your doctor will advise on the best approach depending on the particular cause.

The treatment varies, depending on the cause. For example, identifying and stopping the use of anything that may be sensitising the vulval skin, using antifungal cream for thrush, using antibiotic medicines for certain infections, using steroid cream for various skin conditions, using hormone cream or hormone replacement therapy if the itch is related to the menopause. In young girls, learning to wipe gently from front to back, and to wash and rinse well and dry even when showering will help.

General treatments for itchy crotch

These are treatments which are likely to help with vulval itch whatever the cause:

Moisturizers

Bland moisturizers such as aqueous cream or emulsifying ointment can help to ease the itch, whatever the cause. You can use these in addition to most other treatments. Use them liberally. They can also be used as a soap substitute. Emollients such as aqueous cream can be stored in the refrigerator to keep them cool. If you are feeling particular irritation, using some cool emollient from the refrigerator on the skin may be soothing.

You can buy moisturizers at pharmacies, or obtain them on prescription. However, there is a slight word of caution. Occasionally, some people become sensitised to various ingredients that are in some moisturizers. This can make itch worse. This is unusual, however, and bland moisturizers without added perfumes do help symptoms in most cases.

Try to avoid the itch-scratch cycle

The itch-scratch cycle occurs when scratching causes more itching – which causes more scratching – which causes more itching – etc. So, if you scratch, it may make the itch worse. Excessive scratching can also cause thickening of the skin – which then becomes even itchier. Therefore, apart from any other treatment, try not to scratch if at all possible. Keep your nails cut short and don’t wear nail varnish. Consider wearing cotton gloves at night to stop scratching in your sleep. Scratching may also damage the vulval skin and increase the risk of the skin becoming infected with germs (bacteria).

General vulval skin care and other advice

The following may also help ease vulval itching, whatever the cause.

Clothes

  • Wear lose 100% cotton underwear. Avoid nylon or synthetic underwear material which tends to block fresh air, and causes you to .
  • Change your underwear daily.
  • Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes such as cycling shorts or leggings. Skirts and dresses are probably better than trousers. Stockings are probably better than tights. The aim is to allow some air to get to the vulva, and not to allow it to become too sweaty.
  • Consider wearing no underwear – for example, when you are at home, or at night.

Washing

How to treat jock itch

Wash for jock itch

Wash your vulva gently, once a day. Do not scrub or wash vigorously and avoid using a sponge or flannel to wash with. Over-cleaning may make symptoms worse. Use a bland, unscented moisturizer as a soap substitute.

Taking a shower is generally better than having a bath, as it is easier to wash the vulva – but take care to wash off any soap.

Do not put on your underwear until your vulva is fully dry. Dry the skin gently with a soft towel. A hairdryer may be useful to dry properly. Make sure it is on cool and held well away from the skin. Try to avoid getting shampoo on to the vulva, where it may irritate the itchy crotch.

Other general advice

Sometimes soaps, perfumes, bubble baths, deodorants, scented creams, the dye in toilet tissue, etc., can irritate the delicate vulval skin causing itchy crotch. Don’t use any of these on your vulva or in your bath water or shower. Use plain, non-coloured toilet tissue. Use non-perfumed sanitary towels and panty liners and try to avoid using them on a regular basis. Consider avoiding plasticized ‘one-way’ top sheets which can cause sweating and reduce air circulation. Avoid antiseptics or special vaginal washes.

Some people develop skin sensitivity to a washing powder or fabric conditioner. This is uncommon, but it may be worth considering changing to a different brand of washing powder, and not using any fabric conditioner or biological washing powder for underwear.

Avoid condoms that are lubricated with spermicide, as they can be sensitizing. Similarly, avoid perfumed lubricants.

Help with sleep

Antihistamine medicine at bedtime may help if sleep is affected. Antihistamines do not have a great effect on the itch, but some cause drowsiness. This may help you to sleep. A doctor or pharmacist can advise on which antihistamines are sedating.

What if no cause for itchy crotch is found?

In most cases, a cause can be found for an itchy crotch on the vulva. Treatment is then aimed at the underlying cause. However, in some cases no cause can be found. The general advice given above on clothes, washing, etc., will usually help. In addition, your doctor may advise that you use a mild steroid ointment such as hydrocortisone for a week or so.

This often settles the itch within a few days. It may also help to break any itch-scratch cycle that has developed. However, you should not use steroid ointment regularly on the vulva, as it can have a thinning effect on the skin with long-term use.

Note: steroid ointments can make some conditions of the vulva worse. Some steroid creams are available ‘over the counter’, but you should see a doctor about a persistent itchy vulva before using any treatment, particularly steroid treatments.

Some women find an itchy crotch on the vulva embarrassing, particularly if it becomes a persistent problem. It can make them feel distressed and depressed and may interfere with their sex life. If you feel like this, go to see your doctor. They may be able to help, and it is more likely than not that a simple treatment will solve the problem.

More references

  1. Male groin- irritation and infection:
  2. Jock itch:
  3. Jock itch facts:
  4. What causes vaginal itching:
  5. Groin skin fungus in women:
  6. How to get rid of a crotch itch:
  7. Itchy vulva: