Tinea cruris is an infection of the groin caused by a fungus. Treatment with an antifungal cream usually works well. The tips given below may help to prevent recurrences.
What is tinea cruris and how do you get it?
Tinea cruris is a fungal skin infection of the groin. Some types of fungal germs (fungi) are commonly found on human skin. They usually do no harm. However, if conditions are right they can 'invade' the skin, multiply and cause infection. The conditions fungi like best are warm, moist and airless areas of skin, such as the groin.
What are the symptoms of tinea cruris?
Typically, the groin becomes itchy and irritable, mainly in the crease between the top of the leg and the genitals. It is more common in men, and the scrotum may also be itchy. A red rash then develops in the groin, usually with a definite edge or border. Both groins are commonly affected. The rash often spreads a short way down the inside of both thighs.
Sometimes the infection spreads to the skin on other parts of the body (or may have first started in another area, such as athlete's foot). Fungal infections do not usually go deeper than the skin into the body, and are not usually serious.
What is the treatment for tinea cruris?
You can buy an antifungal cream from pharmacies, or get one on prescription. There are various types and brands - for example, terbinafine, clotrimazole, econazole, ketoconazole, miconazole, and sulconazole. These modern creams are good at clearing fungal skin infections.
- Apply the cream to the surrounding 4-6 cm of normal skin in addition to the rash.
- Apply for as long as advised. This varies between the different creams, so read the instructions carefully.
- For skin that is particularly inflamed, your doctor may prescribe an antifungal cream combined with a mild steroid cream. This would normally be used for no more than seven days. You may need to continue with an antifungal cream alone for a time afterwards. The steroid reduces inflammation and may ease itch and redness quickly. However, the steroid does not kill the fungus and so a steroid cream alone should not be used.
An antifungal medicine taken by mouth is sometimes prescribed if the infection is widespread or severe - for example, terbinafine, griseofulvin, or itraconazole tablets.
The following tips may prevent tinea cruris from recurring
- Wash your groin daily; then dry thoroughly. Drying is perhaps the most important point. It is easy to put on underwear when your groin is not quite dry. The damp groin is then an ideal site for fungi to multiply. (A hairdryer is useful if you have hairy groins.)
- Change underwear daily. Fungi may multiply in flakes of skin in unwashed underwear.
- Check for athlete's foot and treat it if you have it. Athlete's foot is a common fungal infection of the toes. In a typical case of athlete's foot, the skin between the toes is itchy and flaky - especially between the outer two toes. The fungi from athlete's foot may spread to the groin. The same creams are used to treat athlete's foot and fungal groin infection.
- Do not share towels with people in communal changing rooms. Wash towels frequently.
- Keep your own towel when you have a fungal skin infection to reduce the chance of passing on the fungus to others.
Further reading & references
- Fungal skin infection - body and groin; NICE CKS, May 2009
- Fungal skin infections; DermNet NZ
- Wiederkehr M et al; Tinea Cruris, Medscape, Jan 2012
- Ali N; Fungal Infections, InnovAiT, 2012: 2 (6);330-335.
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.
Dr Tim Kenny
Dr Laurence Knott
Dr Hannah Gronow