Jock Itch Isn’t Just a Problem For Athletes (and Adele)

Getty / Gareth Cattermole / Staff

It may seem like celebs are always perfectly put together and glowing from the inside out, but Adele recently got real about her latest struggle: jock itch.

At a performance that was part of her Las Vegas residency, Adele shared with fans that during her shows, she wears Spanx, and “I sweat a lot, and it doesn’t go anywhere, so I basically am just sitting in my own sweat, so my doctor [diagnosed] me [with] jock itch.”

Amid laughs from the crowd, the “Easy on Me” singer went on to say that she’s been prescribed ointment to help solve the problem, People reports. “So it looks like I’m a big athlete, basically,” Adele said. And it’s true – jock itch is especially common in athletes, which is where it got its name, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Although Adele was being humorous, she was also stating facts: sweating a lot and being in tight clothes for long periods of time can cause jock itch. Here’s everything to know about the itchy and irritating condition.

What Is Jock Itch?

Also known as tinea cruris, jock itch is a fungal skin infection that causes an itchy rash in warm, moist areas of the body, such as the groin, inner thighs, and pubic area, per the Mayo Clinic.

The rash is often bordered with small, painful blisters and has an intense burning or stinging sensation. As the name suggests, it’s also incredibly itchy.

What Causes Jock Itch?

Jock itch is caused by a fungus that thrives in warm, moist environments. That’s why athletes – or anyone who sweats a lot and wears tight clothing that traps that sweat against the skin, like performers with an affinity for Spanx – are more prone to the condition.

This fungus is the same organism often responsible for athlete’s foot, the Mayo Clinic reports. The rash is highly contagious and can spread from person to person with skin contact or from sharing contaminated towels or clothing.

Can Women Get Jock Itch?

People with penises are three times more likely to have jock itch than others, according to Cleveland Clinic. That’s because “moisture can get trapped between the scrotum and thigh,” notes the Merck Manuel.

That said, anyone can develop the condition. The Mayo Clinic notes that other risk factors include having diabetes or a weakened immune system – as well as sweating heavily and wearing underwear, jeans, or leggings that are particularly tight.

It’s also possible to develop jock itch after getting athlete’s foot. If you or your clothing were to touch your infected foot, then touch your groin, the fungus can spread.

What Does Jock Itch Look Like?

Jock itch looks like a rash, which could be red, brown, purple, or dark gray, and may become dry, cracked, and/or scaly. Similar to ringworm, jock itch may be shaped like a ring, the Cleveland Clinic states. But the rash can also present with small bumps or blisters around the edge of the affected area – typically around the groin, inner thighs, butt, or pubic area.

How Is Jock Itch Treated?

Jock itch doesn’t clear up on its own but typically resolves in one to three weeks with over-the-counter (OTC) antifungal creams and/or prescription topical medications, according to the Cleveland Clinic. For OTC treatment, look for creams, ointments, gels, or sprays that contain clotrimazole, miconazole, tolnaftate, or terbinafine, all ingredients that target and kill the fungus.

That said, it’s best to see a doctor before trying a treatment, even an OTC cream, to make sure you really have jock itch. It’s also essential to see a healthcare provider if the rash hasn’t improved within a week of starting treatment, if it begins to interfere with your daily activities, or if you develop a fever. For more serious cases, a healthcare provider can also prescribe an oral antifungal pill.

While undergoing treatment for jock itch, it’s also important to manage symptoms by keeping the affected area dry, clean, and cool. Avoid wearing tight underwear or clothing, and use a powder or spray to absorb moisture around your groin, especially after showering or working out.

And while it may be difficult, avoid scratching your groin, because this can cause the fungus to spread to other parts of the body.

How to Prevent Jock Itch

To ward off jock itch, keep your groin and inner thighs clean and dry by using a fresh towel after showering. You should also always dry your feet last to avoid the spread of athlete’s foot to the groin area. If you do have athlete’s foot, begin treatment as soon as possible to minimize the risk of further spreading.

In the same vein, always wear clean and dry clothing. If you sweat, change your underwear and pants immediately and wash your clothes after each use. It’s also best to wear breathable cotton underwear that allows the skin to stay dry and to use sweat-wicking products to prevent too much moisture from sitting against your skin. (Antichafing products should help.)

Lastly, don’t share personal items such as towels, pants, Spanx, or underwear. Jock itch is super contagious, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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