Is Jock Itch Contagious?

Hygiene tips and being mindful of others

Jock itch, also called tinea cruris or ringworm of the groin, is a common fungal infection that causes a red, itchy, ring-shaped rash in the inner thighs and on the buttocks. The fungal infection is a type of ringworm.

The fungus that causes jock itch thrives on warm, moist skin that's covered with tightly fitted clothing. That's why the condition is especially common in athletes. Although it’s most typically associated with men, anyone, including children, can experience jock itch.

Jock itch can be passed from one person to another by direct skin-to-skin contact or contact with unwashed clothing. However, it typically resolves with self-care in a few weeks.

itching in the groin area

Towfiqu Ahamed / Getty Images

What Is Jock Itch?

Jock itch is an infection caused by a fungus in the tinea group, which is a classification for mold-like fungi. Although the condition is harmless and very treatable, it can have some uncomfortable symptoms, including:

  • Red and raised scaly patches of skin that can blister and ooze
  • Itchiness
  • Changes in skin tone that can cause the skin to become darker or lighter, which can be permanent

Jock itch usually stays around the creases of the upper thighs, and does not involve the scrotum or penis.

Those experiencing jock itch may also have athlete’s foot, another infection caused by the ringworm fungus.

Some things can trigger or make someone more susceptible to developing jock itch, including:   

  • Friction from clothes and prolonged moistness in the groin area, which often happens if someone doesn’t change out of sweaty clothes promptly or dry off properly following a bath, shower, or swimming
  • Family history of jock itch
  • Contact with clothing or towels that have come into contact with athlete’s foot
  • Close contact with people who have the infection
  • A history of repeat jock itch
  • Exposure during recreational activities, such as wrestling or martial arts
  • Excessive sweating, also known as hyperhidrosis

Can Females Get Jock Itch?

Jock itch occurs mostly in males, but females can still develop jock itch. For example, a male can pass the infection to a female through intercourse. Females can also develop jock itch if they come into contact with contaminated clothing. If a female has athlete's foot, the infection can also spread to the groin area through touching or contact with clothing that touched their feet.

Is Jock Itch Contagious? 

Jock itch is contagious. It can spread easily from person to person, and from one body part to another. Jock itch may spread to near the anus, causing anal itching and discomfort.

Jock itch can be contagious even during treatment, so it’s important to avoid letting others touch your clothes during this time.

In some cases, the spores of the fungus causing the infection can live on bedding, towels, or other soft surfaces for up to a year if they are not washed properly. Because of this, jock itch can be spread for quite some time even after you have treated the infection.

Duration of Symptoms 

Symptoms of jock itch go away in a few weeks with treatment. However, if it isn’t treated promptly, the infection can last for weeks or even months. In some cases, using the wrong treatment or participating in activities that worsen the infection can lead to more severe or long-lasting symptoms.

The things that can make jock itch worse include:

  • Exercise: Typically, exercising causes sweat to build up in the groin area, which can lead to chafing between normal skin and the skin that is affected by jock itch. This can lead to further irritation. 
  • Poor hygiene: Having moist skin for prolonged periods of time can worsen or prolong jock itch, such as staying in damp clothes for too long or sharing dirty clothes or towels with others.
  • Lack of treatment: Symptoms of jock itch can persist for a long time if your infection is not treated promptly.
  • A weak immune system: Certain medications for those with autoimmune disorders weaken the immune system. The same is true for some conditions such as HIV. For those with jock itch, taking immunosuppressive medications or having a condition that causes a weakened immune system can make it more difficult for the body to rid itself of jock itch.

Can You Exercise With Jock Itch?

You don’t have to give up exercise altogether if you have jock itch. However, to make sure the condition doesn’t get worse, you should shower immediately after working out, dry off completely with a clean towel, and wear clean, loosely fitted clothing afterward.

Jock Itch Remedies 

The first-line treatment for jock itch is an antifungal cream. These can be purchased over-the-counter, but sometimes a prescription-strength cream may be required.

In some cases, an oral antifungal medication and antifungal creams are both needed. Antifungal treatment typically lasts two to four weeks.

Other possible remedies for jock itch include:

  • Treating other fungal infections on the body, such as athlete’s foot
  • Keeping the area clean and dry
  • Changing clothing, especially undergarments and socks, every day or more than once a day if it becomes wet or damp
  • Showering or bathing daily, and then drying off with a clean towel

Slowing the Spread

To avoid spreading jock itch, you can:

  • Avoid sharing clothes, jockstraps, or towels with others.
  • Refrain from any sexual activity until the infection has fully healed.
  • Steer clear of public showers, restrooms, or swimming pools until you recover.
  • Thoroughly wipe down exercise equipment at shared gyms before and after use.

It’s possible for children to spread jock itch to one another through sharing clothes and hanging out together in common areas, such as locker rooms at school.

Summary

Jock itch is a contagious fungal infection that affects the upper thighs, genitals, and buttocks. It causes a red, itchy, and ring-shaped rash. The fungus that causes the infection thrives on warm and moist skin covered by tight-fitting clothing. To avoid spreading the infection, avoid sharing clothing that has come in contact with the infection with others and be sure to treat other fungal infections you may have, such as athlete's foot.

A Word From Verywell 

Jock itch can be uncomfortable, but it is a very common condition that can be easily treated. The best way for children and adults to avoid developing jock itch is by practicing good personal hygiene. If you believe you have become infected with the fungus that causes jock itch, get treatment as quickly as possible. This will help clear up the infection fast, so you can resume your normal activities and find relief for your symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is jock itch contagious during sex?

Yes. The skin-to-skin contact that occurs during intercourse can spread jock itch. It’s important to refrain from sexual activity until you have fully recovered from the infection.

How long does jock itch last?

Jock itch can last anywhere from two weeks to a few months. Getting treatment promptly will significantly reduce the time jock itch symptoms last.

Is chronic jock itch a symptom of an STI? 

Jock itch is not considered a sexually transmitted infection (STI), and is not a symptom of one. Although some symptoms of jock itch mimic those of some STIs and the infection can be spread via sexual contact, it is not considered to be a symptom of an STI.

Can women get jock itch?

Yes, women can get jock itch if they come into contact with a person who has the infection. They can also get it from contaminated clothing. If a woman has athlete’s foot and unknowingly transfers the fungus to her genital area, she can also develop the infection.

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6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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