Inguinal intertrigo, sometimes called jock itch, is a fungal rash of the skin that appears on the folds of the groin (inguinal folds). This condition mainly affects adult men. Provoked by a type of fungus called dermatophyte , it extends in a circle on the skin, forming a ring. The skin blushes under the effect of irritation.
Some people have the wrong sensation of having a worm under the skin. The fungi responsible for the infection are normally present on the skin and nails and are usually harmless. However, under certain conditions, they can multiply considerably, causing irritation and damage to the skin.
Skin infections caused by fungi are called dermatophytosis. Plantar epidermophytia is athlete 's foot; microscopic shearing moth attacks the scalp. Inguinal intertrigo refers to the dermatophytosis of the groin. All these conditions are caused by dermatophytes; only the infected regions vary.
Classic inguinal intertrigo affects the inner thighs, groin and lower buttocks, but not the genitals. The inflammation of the scrotum is usually due to another fungal condition, candidiasis, which requires medical attention.
Dermatophytes preferentially proliferate on moist, warm skin and develop in skin folds, for example in the groin or in the spaces between the toes. Men who are overweight are more likely to be affected by inguinal intertrigo if sweating is severe or skin folds are numerous. Wearing too tight clothing and hot, humid climates also promote the development of affection.
Men who practice a sport requiring the wearing of a protective shell are particularly prone to inguinal intertrigo. Wet equipment left in a locker room is an ideal environment for the development of dermatophytes. Mushrooms can live on towels, carpets and toilet seats. Sharing towels, combs and shoes can facilitate the transmission of fungal infections.
Since dermatophytes can cause different types of infections, it is not uncommon for a man with athlete's foot to develop inguinal intertrigo by wiping his feet before wiping his groin.
Symptoms and Complications
The inguinal intertrigo frequently causes pain or itching, but it is not systematic. The following visible clues confirm that this is a fungal infection:
- inflammation of the groin, anal region and upper thigh, which spares the genitals;
- a slight blistering of the skin;
- distinct outlines;
- an extension or spread of this blister, which leaves a clear part in the center;
- dry or scaly ampoules, sometimes oozing or crusted;
- an abnormally dark or light coloring of the skin;
- redness or inflammation
Fungal infections often extend into concentric circles, leaving a normal colored skin in the center. On the periphery of the infected area, the skin is swollen, red and scaly.
Itching of the groin may be due to a number of conditions (such as eczema, lice, candidiasis, scabies and seborrhea) ; the doctor will be able to determine the origin of the disorder. To do this, he will take a small portion of irritated skin and examine it under a microscope. In some cases, he may send the sample to the laboratory to determine the cause of the irritation.
When a man consults a doctor for an inguinal intertrigo, the doctor can ask him what sport he does or the type of clothing he wears, or if he has pets. Dermatophytosis can easily reappear after treatment if the cause of the infection has not been removed; it is therefore important to know where it comes from.
Treatment and Prevention
Inguinal intertrigo, considered a benign condition, is usually treated with medications that do not require a prescription. It should disappear easily in about 2 to 4 weeks thanks to the application, 2 or 3 times a day, of a cream, a powder or antifungal lotion on the infected region.
Certain anti-fungal creams and powders such as clotrimazole * or miconazole, available at pharmacies without a prescription, are effective against most dermatophytes. It is important to continue treatment until its completion, even if the symptoms disappear.
If inflammation persists for more than 2 or 3 weeks despite the use of antifungal medication, seek medical attention. The doctor will prescribe another antifungal cream or antifungal medicine to take in tablet form.
To relieve and prevent the appearance of inguinal intertrigo, observe the following guidelines:
- wear loose clothing and underwear;
- change your underwear often, especially if you have sweated;
- shower as soon as possible after a sport
- wash your sportswear after each use;
- do not wear a wet swimsuit too long;
- do not use the towel or clothes of another person;
- after your shower, put on your socks first. If you put on your underwear before the socks, the foot fungi may come into contact with the undergarment and cause inguinal intertrigo;
- Apply cornstarch or talcum powder to the areas where the probability of infection is highest, to prevent moisture accumulation.
* All drugs have both a common name (a generic name) and a brand name or brand. The mark is the name that a manufacturer chooses for its product (eg Tylenol®). The generic name is the name of the drug in medicine (eg acetaminophen). A drug may have multiple brand names, but it has only one generic name. This article lists medications by their generic name. For information on a specific drug, see our drug database. For more information on brand names, consult your doctor or pharmacist.