Fungal groin infection - How to treat and prevent groin fungus

Last updated: 19/4/2023

Groin fungus is a troublesome condition that can affect both men and women. Fortunately, with the right remedies, it can be easily treated. Here you can find out how to get rid of groin fungus, what you can do to avoid it and how to recognise the symptoms.

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Read by Anne Thestrup Meimbresse

Anne, Varde Pharmacy
Anne has a MSc in Pharmacy from the University of Southern Denmark and has worked as a pharmacist at the Varde pharmacy for several years. Here she advises both costumers and doctors about the correct use of medical products.

What is a fungal groin infection?

Groin fungus is a really unpleasant skin condition caused by a fungal infection with skin fungi, also known as dermatophytes. As with other fungal infections, it is a very common skin condition.

Groin fungus is also known as crotch fungus or inguinal fungus, and the Latin name is Tinea Cruris. Groin fungus is 'related' to other types of fungi such as athlete's foot, nail fungus and scalp fungus.

Who experiences fungal groin infections?

Groin fungus is a bothersome condition that can affect both women and men. However, it is particularly common in men, especially those who are very active and play sports. Sports and activity involve a lot of sweating, which creates a moist environment that can be a favourable breeding ground for a fungal infection. If you are very active, it is therefore particularly important that you pay attention to hygiene - wash yourself well and dry yourself thoroughly afterwards. But don't share a towel with others if you have a crotch fungus, as you may risk spreading the infection.

Groin fungus is also common in people who have poor hygiene. A moist and stuffy environment provides favourable conditions for fungal growth. Overweight people can therefore also be at risk, as it can be more difficult to keep yourself clean if you are very overweight. There are more skin folds for fungi to live in, and skin folds provide an optimal environment for fungi because they are moist and warm. Obese people also tend to sweat more, and a sweaty, moist environment provides favourable conditions for fungi to grow.

Finally, people with diabetes also have a higher risk of developing crotch fungus (and other fungal infections in general). This is because diabetics have high levels of sugar in their blood, which can cause them to excrete sugar when they sweat, which is something that fungi like.

JUMP STRAIGHT TO: Treatment of a fungus groin infection

Why do you get groin fungus?

Everyone has fungal spores all over their body. This is perfectly normal and completely harmless. Fungal spores feed on dead skin cells and as long as they are not given the opportunity to multiply more than normal, the balance is in order and they do no harm. If, on the other hand, they are given too favourable conditions for growth, they start to be a nuisance, and that's when we talk about fungus.

Fungal spores love warm and moist conditions, and that's exactly what you have in your crotch - especially if you don't take care to combat the humidity and pay close attention to maintaining good hygiene and a clean and dry environment.

Groin fungus amongst men

Groin fungus is more common in men than in women and is often seen in athletes and men who are generally very physically active. In English, groin fungus is also known as 'jock itch', which translates as 'athlete's itch'. In addition, crotch fungus is more common in overweight men and men who have diabetes. Men who wear tight-fitting underwear and tight clothing are also more at risk of crotch fungus.

Summarising the above, it is not surprising that it is young men who are more likely to get crotch fungus: they are very often more physically active and wear tight underwear and tight trousers!

JUMP STRAIGHT TO:  Treatment of Jock itch

Gel & Soap against irritation arising from jock itch

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Symptomes for groin fungus for men

The typical symptoms of genital thrush in men are a distinct red or reddish-brown rash on the skin that burns and itches. The skin is visibly irritated and may also become scaly and cracked. The area can be quite large, extending from the groin area, between the buttocks, to the inside of the thighs and onto the scrotum. The affected area will typically be clearly and sharply demarcated from the healthy area.

Fungus can be contagious

Groin fungus can be transmitted either by direct skin-to-skin contact or indirect contact, for example by sharing a towel. If you have groin fungus, it is therefore important that you seek treatment immediately so that you do not risk spreading the infection to others.

You can also infect yourself if, you have a fungal infection that you have not treated. If you notice symptoms of fungus, there is good reason to get it treated immediately - you will avoid itching and irritation in your crotch and you will not pass the infection on to yourself or others.

Groin fungus for women

Although fungus in the groin is more common in men than women, women can also get fungus on the groin. Fungus thrives best where it is moist and warm. This is typically in the crotch area, especially if you don't maintain good hygiene and quickly change from sweaty underwear/sportswear to dry and clean underwear/clothes.

Women with diabetes and overweight women are also at an increased risk of groin fungus. Unfortunately, fungus thrives particularly well in diabetics who have high blood sugar levels, as the sugar can be excreted through sweat. For overweight people, this is because skin folds provide a perfect environment for fungi to grow, with both moisture and warmth. On top of that, it can be harder to keep yourself clean in the skin folds.

Finally, tight-fitting underwear and frequent wearing of tight trousers can also be the cause of increased fungal growth and thus an outbreak of crotch fungus. So, if you have problems with fungal infections, you may want to switch to looser underwear and looser trousers.

JUMP STRAIGHT TO: Treatment of a fungal groin infection

Symptomes of fungal groin infection for women

The typical symptoms of genital fungus in women are itching and irritation. The skin burns and stings, and there is usually a red or reddish-brown rash on the skin that forms a clear border with the healthy skin area. The skin is irritated and may also become scaly and cracked. The affected area in the groin can be quite large, extending to the inner thighs and the area between the buttocks.

You can contaminate and get contaminated with fungus

You can infect others if you have groin fungus - and you can be infected by others. This can happen through direct skin-to-skin contact, for example during sexual intercourse with a partner who has genital thrush. It can also be transmitted through indirect contact, for example by sharing a towel with someone else. In general, it is therefore a good idea not to share towels with others - especially if you have a fungal infection.

If you have fungus elsewhere on your body, for example athlete's foot, you should also be aware that you can infect yourself and thus, for example, get fungus in your crotch. So always make sure you get a fungal infection treated immediately.

How to treat a fungal groin infection

If you suspect that the itching, burning and irritation you are experiencing may be caused by fungus, it is a good idea to get your doctor to look at it. Of course, this also applies if you are experiencing similar symptoms but are unsure what it could be.

However, if you feel fairly certain that your symptoms are caused by fungus - or you recognise the symptoms because you have had fungus in the past - you can just go to the pharmacy or Boots and buy cream against fungus in the groin. But if the symptoms have not disappeared after a few weeks of treatment, you should see your doctor.

Your doctor will often be able to make a diagnosis just by looking at your skin. However, he or she may also choose to take a fungal swab of the skin for microscopy and culture to be sure. Some types of eczema or psoriasis can look like fungus.

Treatment with cream and pills

Fortunately, groin fungus is a harmless condition that is relatively easy to treat. Your doctor will typically recommend medication in the form of an antifungal cream that you should apply to your skin. This is available over the counter. In some cases, if the cream fails to control your fungal infection, you may be prescribed a course of tablets.

Fortunately, when you start a treatment for fungal groin infections, you will usually experience relief from the itching and irritation fairly quickly. And after a few weeks, the fungal infection will be gone in most people. After that, it's just a matter of remembering how to prevent groin fungus so that it doesn't come back.

Tea tree oil for itch and irritation

If you have problems with itching and irritation, there are remedies with natural active ingredients. Australian tea tree oil is known to be effective against itching and irritation.

The advantage of using products with tea tree oil is that you can use them indefinitely as they contain 100% natural actives.

You can use a gel with tea tree oil, which is intended for very dry skin, on the exposed areas of the crotch. It can also be used for eczema skin, psoriasis and on dry shins and feet. From Australian Bodycare you will find Body Cream with tea tree oil. In addition, you can also supplement with an Intimate Wash containing tea tree oil. For example, use the wash cream every time you shower - and use the cream twice a day on dry skin.

For women and men, there is another product that is effective against itching and skin irritation: Femigel from Australian Bodycare. It is a gel designed for women to relieve itching and irritation.

Gel & Soap against irritation arising from jock itch

Against itching at the penis & in the vagina and jock itch

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Preventing fungal groin infections

Good hygiene is the most important tool to avoid groin fungus. It's all about keeping the area clean and dry to avoid dampness and heat for longer periods of time. The best way to do this is to wash daily, preferably with mild, unscented products so you don't irritate your skin unnecessarily. Once you have washed, it is equally important to remember to dry yourself thoroughly so that the area does not remain damp.

If you do a lot of sports or activities where you sweat a lot, it's a good idea to always remember to shower immediately after your workout or activity so that you don't walk around in damp clothes for a long time and keep the groin area moist.

Also, make sure you change your underwear every day. And avoid wearing tight-fitting underwear (and tight-fitting trousers) if you have problems with groin fungus, as this can mean that the environment in the groin is kept even more enclosed, making it easier to get damp and hot.

Even if you have crotch and/or vaginal thrush, it may be a good idea to supplement with a lubricating gel containing tea tree oil during sex to add extra moisturisation. The lubricating gel counteracts bacteria and can also be used for fungus.

Tips for avoiding groin fungus

Groin fungus is a common condition, but following a few simple rules can help you avoid developing a fungal infection:

  • Make sure you shower every day - and always wash immediately after sports or physical activity.
  • Use mild products when washing your crotch.
  • Make sure you dry yourself thoroughly after i bad.
  • Change your underwear every day.
  • Avoid tight-fitting underwear and tight trousers.
  • Do not share towels with others.
  • If you have a fungal infection, use one towel for the infected area and another for the rest of your body. Wash towels frequently and at least 60 degrees centigrade.
  • If necessary, prevent itching and irritation by using a cream containing tea tree oil; it is a natural product that you can use always and without limitations.
  • If necessary, use a vaginal lubricant during intercourse to add moisturisation.

As fungus in the crotch usually develops when the skin is moist and warm, it's all about prevention if you want to make sure you don't get another fungal infection any time soon. So think about your habits - it doesn't take much longer to wash every day and dry thoroughly afterwards.

Gel & Soap against irritation arising from jock itch

Against itching at the penis & in the vagina and jock itch

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FAQ about groin fungus

How do you get fungus in the groin

Fungus in the crotch typically occurs because the skin is warm and moist. This could be because you do a lot of sport and therefore sweat a lot, or because you wear tight-fitting underwear and clothes that don't let your skin breathe enough. It can also be caused by a lack of hygiene. It is therefore important that you pay attention to keeping the skin in the groin area clean and dry. Finally, a fungal infection in the groin can be caused by someone else infecting you through direct or indirect contact.

What causes a fungal groin infection?

Groin fungus can occur if the skin is hot, moist and stuffy for a long period of time. This could be because you do a lot of sport and therefore sweat a lot, because you forget to wash often enough, because you forget to dry yourself thoroughly after washing, or because you often wear tight-fitting underwear or clothes that make it difficult for the skin to breathe.

Is it groin fungus contagious?

Groin fungus can be transmitted both through direct contact, skin-to-skin, and indirect contact, for example if you share a towel with someone else. Groin fungus is not a highly contagious condition, but if you have it, you should make sure you get it treated right away so that you don't risk infecting others, such as your partner or family members.

Does groin fungus smell?

Fungus in the crotch does not smell. It is annoying and uncomfortable, but it is not a smelly infection. Instead, the typical symptoms are itching, burning and irritation of the skin.

What does groin fungus look like? 

The typical symptoms of groin fungus are itching, irritation and burning. The skin will turn red or reddish-brown in colour and the boundary between the affected skin and the healthy skin will usually be quite clear and well-defined. In addition, the skin may start to peel and form small cracks.

Products from Australian Bodycare

Gel & Soap against irritation arising from jock itch

Against itching at the penis & in the vagina and jock itch

£19.99 £24.99