Gym Rats, Beware of Jock Itch

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One really needs to tip one’s hat to gym rats, those incredibly dedicated guys who spend hours at the gym to hone and perfect their physiques while so many of us opt instead to sit on the couch and exercise by lifting and pressing on the TV remote or the computer mouse. While some gym enthusiasts may go overboard, their attention to physical health – and, one assumes, penis health as well – is admirable. So for all those who make the gym their second home – as well as for those who are less steady in their gym visits – the following tips and information concerning jock itch should help keep crotches healthier.

An itch by any other name

Jock itch is medically known as tinea cruris, and it’s a close relative to the also-familiar athlete’s foot (tinea pedis). Like athlete’s foot, jock itch is a fungal infection, meaning the culprit that starts it all is a fungus.

For those whose memory of high school science is failing them, a fungus is one of a group of organisms that range from itty bitty guys like mold and yeast to bigger lifeforms, such as mushrooms. Many fungi occur naturally in small amounts on the human body with no problem. But when they overproduce, they can become an infection, and that’s what happens with jock itch. Too much fungus grows, creating a very itchy rash that is usually circular in shape, red, and sometimes raised and crusty. Jock itch can appear on the penis, the balls, the buttocks, the thighs, or anywhere in the general pubic area.

The fungus that results in jock itch, like all fungi, loves moist, dark spaces. This is the ideal environment in which to grow. And the crotch is a moist, dark place – usually made even moister from sweat accumulated during a gym workout.


Jock itch is by no means a serious penis health issue – but man, can it ever be an annoying one! Often, the itch associated with the condition can be intense, and it can be embarrassing to be caught scratching away at one’s equipment. Besides, if one scratches too hard and/or too frequently, the rash can become infected, and that’s not good. So keeping jock itch away, and treating it if it strikes, is essential.

The fungus is spread through contact, frequently skin to skin but also from surfaces or fabrics to bare skin. The gym is fertile ground for the fungus to grow. The workout floor is filled with hot, sweaty bodies, and the locker room, showers, and saunas tend to be warm and moist – and filled with naked men. So the potential for spreading jock itch (or athlete’s foot) is obvious. Follow these simple rules to reduce the risk of acquiring jock itch.

– Wipe down equipment before using. Because (hopefully) people are clothed on the gym floor, there is less chance of spreading the fungus, but it can seep out from sweaty shorts, so wipe down equipment regularly.

– Be selfish. Sharing is usually good, but there’s a limit. Never wear another guy’s socks, underwear, or jock, and if borrowing gym shorts, be sure they are clean. Always use fresh, clean towels rather than borrowing one your buddy has been using.

– Use protection. In this case, that means don’t sit bare-assed on the locker room bench or sauna; put a towel down instead. Wear flip-flops or similar footwear in the shower or steam room rather than going barefoot. (If a guy has athlete’s foot, it may spread – by the fungus touching underwear as it is being put on, for example – and become jock itch. So footwear helps a guy avoid athlete’s foot and subsequent possible jock itch.)

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