One of the problems many males face is itching or burning in their groin or inner thigh. This area beneath the underwear is often kind of damp and moist.
Such an environment is a fertile place for the growth of microorganisms which may cause skin infections. Jock itch is one of those.
But why it’s called jock itch? Turns out this infection is quite common among male athletes. One of the terms used to refer to male athletes in the west is ‘Jock.’ Hence the name is jock itch.
Jock itch is caused by a certain kind of fungus. It is particularly common in people who are overweight, who sweat a lot or have some other skin conditions like eczema. The fungus is contagious and can spread by sharing clothes and towels with the infected person.
There are several factors that may increase the likelihood of jock itch. One is definitely gender, as this infection is mostly limited to males.
Being overweight and profuse sweating are important risk factors as well. Having diseases like diabetes or taking medications that can reduce immunity may also raise the possibility of the condition.
However, one of the commonest risk factors identified for jock itch is tight clothing, especially underwear.
If the underwear is not a proper fit for the body, and instead it is tight, then the fabrics of the underwear trap moisture to the detriment of our skin. The moist skin creates dampness. The damp and wet folds of our groin and surrounding skin provides a prime ground for the growth of fungus-like tinea.
But how do we know there is a problem? First, there is a circular, red, scaly rash on the groin or inner thighs. It gradually spreads and may take the shape of a ring.
It is commonly associated with a burning sensation as well as a strong desire to scratch due to itching. Sometimes, the affected skin may crack.
It must be noted that jock itch is not a serious health problem. It is more of a quality of life issue. Constant itching and burning is a cause of annoyance.
It is advisable not to use any cream or ointment on the rash without consulting a dermatologist. The physician can identify the condition by looking at it and they will prescribe necessary medications to relieve it.
To hasten the healing process, the patient should clean the groin area regularly and then dry it off with a clean cloth or towel. This cloth or towel should not be used on any other part of the body. Also, the medications given should be taken strictly according to the prescriptions.
But what about prevention? Yes, there are some healthy habits, which-- if adopted, will help to lower the risk of jock itch.
First of all, we need to ensure wearing properly fitting clothes, including underwear and not try to get into tight clothing just to follow the trend or in a desire to look good.
Underwear can also be replaced by boxer shorts which are more comfortable and healthy. Don’t use the same underwear for several days without cleaning it. Underwear should be changed every day, sometimes on the same day if someone has the problem of excessive sweating.
It is also important to develop the habit of showering every day, and also after playing sports or an intensive exercise session.
The whole body should be dried with a clean towel after a shower and a separate towel must be used for the groin area.
All clothes and undergarments have to be washed and cleaned properly before being reused. These items should never be shared with anyone.
Imtiaz Ahmed has completed MBBS from Dhaka Medical College.