Jock Itch Smell: Causes and Prevention

Jock itch smell can be embarrassing when you are in close physical contact with other people. You can prevent it from happening by finding the cause of the odor and treating it. What causes a jock itch smell?

Jock itch stems from fungal overgrowth on warm and usually damp areas in your body. These areas can include your buttocks, groins, and inner thighs. The fungi produce a yeasty smell and itchy rashes that often burn.

Jock itch typically infects obese people, athletes, and people who sweat a lot. Applying antifungal cream and keeping the area dry and clean can help get rid of the infection.

Aside from fungi, bacteria and yeast can also cause jock itch. Read on to learn more about jock itch, its symptoms, causes, prevention, and treatment.

Jock Itch Smell

jock itch smell

People infected with jock itch often experience a jock itch smell. When fungal, bacterial, or yeast overgrowth occurs over damp and warm areas on your body, jock itch infection can set in. The most affected areas are the following:

  • Groins
  • Buttocks
  • Buttocks’ creases
  • Inner thighs

Jock itch smell comes from infections caused by fungi, bacteria, or yeast. You could quickly get rid of this infection through proper treatment and management.

Applying anti-yeast, antifungal, and antibacterial creams can cure the infection. You have to keep the areas clean and dry, too, to help eliminate the disease.

Jock itch does emit a foul odor similar to spoiled yeast. That smelly yeasty odor can come from your genital area, buttocks, or inner thighs where the infection has set in.

Symptoms of Jock Itch

Aside from the foul yeasty odor, jock itch has also the following symptoms:

1. Red Skin Area

The area in the groin’s skin becomes red or pink. This redness can spread to the upper thighs and the buttocks in a half-moon shape. Changes in skin color could occur as well. Hyperpigmentation (darker skin color) or hypopigmentation (lighter skin color) may occur too. 

2. Ring-Shaped Rashes

Ring-shaped rashes may develop, with blisters surrounding them. They get worse during exercise or sweating due to the warm temperature and moisture.

3. Flaky Skin

The skin could turn flaky or scaly and could crack or peel. These cracks can lead to further infection by other microbes as they serve as entry points to the body.

4. Itchy Skin

Persistent itching could also happen in the infected areas. Often, people cannot help but scratch the site, leading to skin damage.

5. Pain

You would experience pain or burning sensations on the infected skin. The pain will gradually disappear as you get treated.

Causes of Jock Itch 

Fungi could typically be present on your skin in small numbers. But when they multiply rapidly due to exposure to sweat and warmth, they become the cause of jock itch. [1]

The most common cause of jock itch is the fungus dermatophytes. But yeast (Candida) and certain bacteria types can also cause jock itch. The microbe can spread quickly from person to person via contaminated clothing, towels, and personal things. 

Consequently, the fungus, Tinea pedis, is the cause of the athlete’s foot. The fungi thrive in warm and damp places and can travel from your feet to your groin through contaminated towels and clothing.

You have a greater risk of jock itch infection when you are a middle-aged male, are overweight, have diabetes or hepatitis, and tend to sweat profusely. Risk factors also include people who use tight underwear and who have a weak immune system. 

You can get rid of the jock itch smell by eliminating your jock itch infection. Get treated to stop fungal overgrowth through topical antifungal creams. 

The yeasty smell typically comes from warm and usually damp areas in your body, like your inner thighs and genitals. Tinea cruris commonly infects athletes, obese people, and those who sweat a lot. 

You can cure the infection by applying antifungal creams and keeping the areas dry and clean. [2]

How to Prevent Jock Itch 

You can prevent jock itch by observing the following:

1. Always Wear Clean Clothes

Ensure that you are wearing clean clothes every day. Never reuse dirty clothes and underwear. Even if you have not sweated a lot, you still have to change your underwear, undershirt, and clothes daily or whenever you have sweated.

This hygienic practice will prevent you from getting infected by the fungus from contaminated clothing.

2. Keep Your Body Clean and Dry

Wash your inner thighs and genitals regularly with mild soap and water. Then wipe them dry thoroughly. Use another towel to dry your feet if you have an athlete’s foot. If you do not have the infection, wipe your feet last.

Take a shower or bath after sweating a lot to get rid of the sweat. Your sweat is a good breeding ground for bacteria, yeast, and fungi.

You could apply mild baby powder sparingly in your groin, inner thighs, or feet. Do not put too much powder as this can worsen the smell when you sweat. Apply the powder only on clean and dry skin.

3. Avoid Sharing Clothing or Towels

Do not share your towels, clothes, underwear, and similar items with other people. Likewise, do not borrow other people’s things. They could pass on the fungal infection to you.

4. Wear Only Proper Fitting Clothes

Avoid tight-fitting clothes as they can chafe your skin, increasing your risk of jock itch. These clothes could also trap more heat and sweat that can attract more microbes and trigger jock itch.

During hot weather, you can wear loose clothes to reduce sweating and prevent increased fungal growth.

Cotton underwear could keep you dryer and more comfortable. Avoid using clothing with synthetic, nylon, or polyester materials, as they can irritate your skin.

5. Treat Athlete’s Foot Promptly

If you have an athlete’s foot, you have to treat it immediately to prevent the fungal infection from spreading to other parts of your body. The athlete’s foot is infectious and could spread rapidly.

6. Wash Your Body Parts after Exercising

You have to wash your buttocks and groin after exercising or sweating. Remember to dry the area promptly. Washing will prevent moisture formation and would keep the site clean and dry.

7. Avoid Using Perfumed Creams or Lotions

Perfumed creams and lotions may contain harsh ingredients that could irritate your jock itch. If you use a mild baby powder, apply it sparingly and spread it evenly. 

You should apply a doctor-prescribed topical anti-jock itch cream to your affected skin.

8. Avoid Scratching the Infected Area

Scratching will worsen the inflammation or blisters. The action can introduce new microbes as well and can inflict more injury on your skin.

Also, the fungus can infect your nails and cause Tinea unguium or nail fungus. [3]

How to Get Rid of Jock Itch Smell

jock itch smell causes

You can get rid of the jock itch smell by eliminating the fungus or bacterium that causes the infection. Then, you can follow the steps in preventing the infection, as explained above:

  • Observing personal hygiene
  • Wearing clean loose clothes every day
  • Keeping your body areas dry and clean

The use of topical creams can help reduce jock itch smell too. It would be best to consult your doctor about a suitable topical cream for your groin.

When to See a Doctor

You should see your dermatologist at the first sign of jock itch. Consulting a doctor right away will limit the spread of infection, allowing treatment to be easier. The doctor may prescribe oral medications and antifungal creams after the correct diagnosis. 

How Is Jock Itch Diagnosed?

The doctor will visually examine the skin area and take scrapings for microscopic examination with a drop of potassium hydroxide. 

The lab technologist may also do a fungal culture or a skin biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. An examination using a special ultraviolet light can help identify the microbe too.

The treatment should cure you after a few weeks. If you do not get well after three weeks, you should go back to your doctor. This action applies too when you develop a fever. The medication may not be effective for you.

Treatment of Jock Itch 

1. Antifungal Medications

The skin specialist may prescribe antifungal medications, such as clotrimazole, terbinafine, and miconazole.

Another jock itch treatment option is Lamisil cream or Lamisil AT spray. [4] Apply antifungal creams for 2 to 4 weeks. 

You may also take oral terbinafine, itraconazole, or fluconazole for 5 to 7 days.

2. Topical Anti-Itch Steroids

The skin specialist may also prescribe steroids, such as hydrocortisone to reduce itchiness in the area.

You can also take oral medications, such as ibuprofen, for pain due to itching and burning.

3. Wash Area Twice a Day with Antifungal Shampoo

You can use antifungal shampoo like selenium sulfide (Selsun Blue) or ketoconazole (Nizoral shampoo). Wash the area thoroughly after using the shampoo. Do this twice a day.

4. Follow All the Steps on How to Prevent Jock Itch 

  • Always wear clean clothes and underwear
  • Keep your body areas clean and dry, especially the groin area
  • Never share your personal things
  • Wear only proper fitting clothes
  • Treat athlete’s foot promptly
  • Wash your body parts after exercising
  • Avoid using scented creams or lotions

5. Antibacterial Medications for Bacterial Jock Itch

A doctor would prescribe antibacterial medications when bacteria have caused the jock itch. Examples are:

  • Chlorhexidine soap – to use twice a day
  • An ointment containing neomycin or topical antibiotic metronidazole lotion or erythromycin lotion
  • Oral medication for severe cases – Doxycycline, erythromycin, cephalexin, or minocycline for one week

Home Remedies for Jock Itch Smell

jock itch smell prevention

Prepare a 1:5 dilution of white vinegar and water by adding 1 mL (milliliter) of white vinegar to 5 mL of water. Use this solution to soak the affected area with a washcloth.

Other home remedies include the following:

  • Licorice root,
  • Apple cider vinegar,
  • Coconut oil,
  • Tea tree oil, and
  • Oregano oil.

These home treatments have not been scientifically proven, though. So, you have to be cautious when using them. [5]

Applying cornstarch to the infected site could reduce itching and foul odor. The cornstarch should not leave ‘powder cakes’ on the folds of your skin area. You should apply it evenly and sparingly, like powdering your face.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Possible Complications of Jock Itch?

Jock itch is a self-limiting infection. You can cure it, and it does not stay permanently. So, it follows that the possible complications are only a few:

  • Hyperpigmentation or Hypopigmentation – The affected area may become hyperpigmented (darker color) or hypopigmented (lighter color).
  • Cellulitis or Abscess – Secondary skin infections may occur. This condition requires medical attention. 

Can Jock Itch Recur?

Yes, jock itch can recur. To prevent relapses, you have to complete your medication as prescribed by the dermatologist, even when the infected area appears normal. 

There is a reason why you have to take the medication for a specific number of days. Discontinuing your medication because symptoms may have disappeared can subject you to relapses.

Maintain cleanliness and dryness of the previously infected areas after completing your medication.

Conclusion – Jock Itch Smell

Jock itch smell comes from fungal overgrowth in your groins and inner thighs. The smell is yeasty and comes with an itchy, burning sensation.

Jock itch commonly infects people who sweat a lot. Obese people, athletes, and those with underlying illnesses, such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS, are more prone to jock itch.

Using antifungal creams and keeping the areas dry and clean can help get rid of the infection. You can get rid of that jock itch smell quickly by staying clean, dry, and treating the infection properly. 

Home remedies include the following:

Other home remedies include the following:

  • Licorice root,
  • Apple cider vinegar,
  • Coconut oil,
  • Tea tree oil, and
  • Oregano oil.

However, note that these remedies are not scientifically proven. But you can use the said remedies along with one of these treatments:

  • Antifungal Medications
  • Topical Anti-Itch Steroids
  • Follow All the Steps on How to Prevent Jock Itch
  • Anti- Bacterial Medications for Bacterial Jock Itch