Look around. Ok, the coast is clear. Reach down. *Scratch, scratch.* Ah finally, sweet relief. Well, for a moment. It’s brief. Just like that, the irritating itch right around your balls is back.
If your crotch or balls have been itchy and uncomfortable to the point of embarrassing scratching and adjusting for days, there are a myriad of different things that could be causing the problem. One of the biggest culprits? Jock itch.
Despite the fact that jock straps haven’t been a thing for quite a while now, jock itch has remained a steadfast annoyance through the years. And no matter how or when it begins, you probably just want to be rid of it ASAP.
To get rid of jock itch, you must first be able to identify it. Once it’s identified, you’ll be able to stop the scratching for good.
What does jock itch look like?
According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Josh Farhadian, there are a few telltale signs.
“If the rash has a well-defined [circular border] that appears more inflamed than the center, then you are likely dealing with jock itch,” Farhadian says. “In addition, jock itch usually occurs on the upper inner thighs or in the fold between the thighs and scrotum, but not on the scrotum itself.”
Though it might sound unmistakable, Farhadian, who holds appointments at the New York University School of Medicine and the Yale School of Medicine, says self-diagnosis isn’t always reliable. That can be a task best left to professionals.
According to Dr. Farhadian, “patients often think that any rash in the groin area is jock itch (medically referred to as tinea cruris), but that couldn’t be further from the truth.” And that’s where the problem with the oft-touted home remedies comes in.
Are there any home remedies for jock itch?
The good news: there are “remedies” by way of simple prevention, yes. The bad news: there aren’t really reliable home remedies once the condition has already been contracted.
“There really aren’t great home remedies for jock itch,” Dr. Farhadian says. “I would caution any patient to stay out of the pantry when treating true jock itch, as applying apple cider vinegar, cocoa butter, or Vick’s VapoRub (all of which have been recommended on the internet) could potentially cause secondary problems.”
Here’s the thing: there’s jock itch and then there are plenty of other kinds of infections, reactions, and conditions. They are often confused for one another. Using a home remedy intended for one could actually worsen the side effects of another.
“Jock itch is specifically caused by a fungus, most commonly Trichophyton rubrum. Other types of rashes, such as allergic skin reactions, chronic irritation, psoriasis, or bacterial skin infections, can all look just like it,” Farhadian warns. “It is really important to make the correct diagnosis, because while a topical steroid cream would help treat psoriasis or an allergic skin reaction, using the same medication alone on jock itch will make it worse.”
When it comes to jock itch, the best “home remedy” is changing your everyday habits.
Dr. Farhadian recommends that his patients thoroughly dry the groin area after showering and wear breathable, loose-fitting underwear, choosing boxers over briefs.
To keep moisture at bay after you’ve showered, consider using a powder or spray on your groin before getting dressed. Sprays like Dollar Shave Club Swamp-Stop Ball Spray and powders like Beast Ball & Body Powder keep your groin dry by soaking up sweat and moisture as it happens—apply after your shower, your workout, or any other time you feel wetness and itch coming on. If sprays aren’t your thing, try a gel like Manscaped Crop Preserver, which dries down to a powdery finish without the mess.
The fungus that causes jock itch “thrives in dark, moist environments, so keeping the area dry is of paramount importance,” Farhadian says. “A blow dryer on low heat can help remove residual moisture from the groin area after towel drying.”
According to Dr. Farhadian, “the fungus causing jock itch is often transferred from the feet to the groin area when putting on underwear, so it’s always best to put on socks before underwear when getting dressed.”
Are there any over-the-counter solutions for jock itch?
Once jock itch is correctly identified, a cure could be as easy as heading to the drugstore.
“The great thing about jock itch is that good treatments are available over the counter,” Farhadian says. “My go-to-treatment is Lamisil (terbinafine 1%) cream. Apply it to the area twice per day and the rash should resolve within two weeks. Longer courses may be needed for more severe infections.”
Dr. Farhadian also recommends Lotrimin cream as another option. He also says that these medications are used to treat athlete’s foot, so they can serve double-duty beyond the duration of jock itch.
Farhadian says that another “surprising” ally comes in the form of the active ingredient in Monistat, which is used to treat yeast infections. The common cream is an effective treatment for jock itch as well.
That said, “if suspected jock itch is not responding to these topical treatments, then a visit to a dermatologist is recommended, as oral medication may be necessary or there might be an alternate cause,” Farhadian advises.
In some cases, immune deficiencies can cause chronic or recurring jock itch.
Just please, please don’t rub Vick’s VapoRub on your junk. That will cause an itch you definitely won’t be able to scratch.
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