What Are Jock Itch Blisters?

Tinea cruris, also known as jock itch, is a fungal infection that occurs in the groin area. While it usually affects people with penises, anyone can get jock itch.

Some people with jock itch develop blisters with a fungal rash. This can make the person question if they have genital herpes, but they are unrelated conditions.

In this article, we discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment of jock itch, and how the condition differs from herpes.

A close up of the pelvis of a man wearing jean shorts sitting on a chair. His groin is highlighted red.

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Herpes vs. Jock Itch Blisters 

While both genital herpes and jock itch can cause blisters in the groin area, they are different conditions with different characteristics.

Genital Herpes
  • Caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) 1 or 2

  • Usually affects the genitals directly

  • Doesn't involve cleanliness

  • Cannot be cured

  • Mainly treated with antiviral medication

  • Does not spread outside of the genital area (though some HSV 1 or 2 infections can occur in the mouth or eyes)

  • Can cause other symptoms such as fever, sore joints, and headache

  • Spread through skin and fluid contact during oral, vaginal, or anal sex, or through shared sex toys; does not live long when not on skin

Jock Itch
  • Caused by dermatophytes (fungi that live on the skin)

  • Usually occurs in the skin creases of the thighs (and sometimes buttocks), but not the scrotum or penis

  • Can be caused by improper hygiene or moisture accumulation in the area

  • Can be cured

  • Mainly treated with antifungal medication

  • Can cause a rash on the upper and inner thighs, the armpits, and the area just underneath the breasts; can be spread from foot (athlete's foot) to genitals

  • Symptoms usually localized to the skin

  • Can be transmitted from contact with skin (including sexually), or contracted from unwashed and shared objects such as towels, clothing, or athletic equipment

Symptoms of Jock Itch Blisters

Jock itch typically causes red, raised, scaly patches that often have sharply defined edges. These patches can blister and ooze.

Symptoms of jock itch usually appear between four and 14 days after contact with the fungi.

Causes of Jock Itch Blisters

The fungus that causes jock itch thrives in moist environments. This includes areas of the body such as the creases of the thighs. It also includes showers and objects such as damp towels and clothing.

Jock itch can be contracted through direct skin contact with people who have this fungal infection or through contaminated objects.

It can also be spread from contact with athlete's foot (fungal infection of the foot). This can happen through exposure to another person or contaminated objects. It can also be spread from the person's own foot to their genital area, such as from pulling up pants or underwear that have touched the infected foot.

While jock itch is usually less severe than other fungal skin infections, it can last for weeks or even months if left untreated.

Ringworm (the family of fungal infections that jock itch belongs to) can be made worse by anti-itch creams containing corticosteroids. These creams can allow the infection to spread and cover larger areas of skin. Rarely, they can cause the fungus to go deeper into the skin, which makes it harder to treat.

Risk Factors for Jock Itch

While anyone can get jock itch, some factors can make someone more prone to it:

  • Being a teenage or adult person with a penis
  • Heavy sweating
  • Having large skin creases on the body
  • Wearing tight clothing
  • Wearing unwashed clothing, especially underwear or athletic supporters
  • Not changing underwear often enough
  • Infrequent showering
  • Sharing unwashed towels, clothing, or athletic supporters with other people
  • Using public showers or locker rooms
  • Having an immune system disorder
  • Engaging in contact sports such as wrestling

When to See a Doctor

Jock itch is rarely serious and can often be treated at home. A doctor's visit is needed if:

  • The jock itch hasn't responded to home treatment within two weeks.
  • Symptoms are getting worse or other symptoms are present.
  • There are signs of infection such as increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness; red streaks leading from the rash; pus draining from the rash; fever.

Preventing Jock Itch

Strategies that lessen the chances of contracting jock itch include the following:

  • Put on socks before putting on underwear, especially if you have athlete's foot.
  • Wash clothes (especially workout clothes, underwear, and socks) and towels after each use.
  • Keep groin, inner thighs, and buttocks area clean and dry.
  • Do not share clothing, sports equipment, towels, or sheets with other people.
  • Wear footwear such as slippers, water shoes, or sandals in locker rooms, showers, and public bathing areas.
  • Avoid tight-fitting clothing.
  • Shower or bathe and thoroughly dry off regularly, particularly after sweating or exercising.

To help keep jock itch from worsening and to keep symptoms such as blisters to a minimum:

  • Wash the affected area with soap and water, then pat dry with a clean towel.
  • Use antifungal medication as the package directs.
  • Wash hands well after treating or touching the rash.
  • Don't scratch the rash.
  • Keep the affected skin dry as much as possible.
  • Wear loose-fitting cotton clothing.

Treatment

In addition to keeping the area clean and dry, jock itch is usually treated with antifungal medications. These include:

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) antifungal creams or drying powders that contain medication such as miconazole, clotrimazole, terbinafine, or tolnaftate
  • Prescription topical (applied to the skin) antifungal medications
  • Oral antifungal medications (usually for difficult-to-treat infections)
  • Antibiotics (if a secondary bacterial infection occurs)

A Word From Verywell

Jock itch is a common fungal infection that affects the groin and buttocks area. It can cause unpleasant symptoms such as a rash that can blister.

Thankfully, jock itch usually responds well to treatments like antifungal creams, many of which are available over the counter.

If you have symptoms of jock itch such as blisters in the groin area that persist or suggest infection, be sure to see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis and treatment options.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is jock itch contagious?

    Yes, jock itch is contagious. It can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact with another person who has the fungal infection that causes jock itch or through contaminated objects such as clothing or towels. It can also be spread from the foot to the groin if the person has athlete's foot (a fungal infection of the foot).

  • How long does jock itch last?

    Jock itch usually responds to treatment within two weeks. Left untreated, it can last weeks to months. Treatment is most effective when started early.

  • Can people with vulvas get jock itch?

    While jock itch is more common in people with penises, people with vulvas can also get jock itch. The fungus that causes jock itch typically causes a rash in the skin folds of the thighs. It can also cause a rash in the butt area.

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14 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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