Thanks to the pandemic, we’re all at home way more than usual — and that’s a good thing, from a public health perspective. But all that sitting around at home isn’t without risk, especially if you’re not, uh, airing things out on a regular basis.
David Kim, a board-certified dermatologist in California, tells Allure a sedentary lifestyle puts people at a higher risk than ever for jock itch, which is an uncomfortable, itchy rash that thrives in warm, sweaty areas of the body, like the groin and under the breasts. “Constantly sitting traps heat and moisture in the groin, which increases the risk for jock itch,” he says. “Anything that’s tight-fitting and not as breathable can put you at a risk for an infection.”
Wondering if you’re at risk, or if your existing rash might be related to a fungal infection? Here’s everything you need to know about jock itch, according to dermatologists and an OB-GYN.
What is jock itch?
According to Apple Bodemer, a dermatologist in Madison, Wisconsin, jock itch — also called tinea cruris – is a condition caused by a fungal infection of the skin. Because fungus thrives in warm, moist environments, jock itch usually occurs in areas where skin touches skin, such as the groin. In spite of the name, jock itch doesn’t only affect athletes, and it doesn’t only happen in the groin. Heather Beall, an OB-GYN in Crystal Lake, Illinois, says the condition can also occur under the breasts, usually in people with larger chests. A similar fungal rash — tinea pedis, also known as athlete’s foot — can happen between people’s toes.
The main symptom of jock itch, Kim says, is an itchy, red rash. “The classic rash is a ring-shaped red rash with red borders,” he explains. “The edges are red and scaly, and the middle part is usually clear.” According to Kim, another classic feature of fungal infection is that it’s symmetrical — usually, it occurs on both the left and right sides.
Jock itch can be uncomfortable, but Kim says it’s usually nothing to worry about, especially if it’s treated right away. “It can definitely spread to the genitals but typically it does stay limited within the groin because people will notice it and start to treat it before it gets any worse,” he says.
How do you get jock itch, and who is most likely to experience it?
According to Bodemer, jock itch can happen anytime sweat and moisture stay on the body for a long time and cause fungus or yeast overgrowth — like if a person is sitting down for a long period while wearing tight-fitting undergarments or pants, or continues wearing sweaty underwear after working out.