The Boys' Growing Up in the Lord

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Question

I have seen white bumps in my groin area (in the area where the pubic hair grows and under the testicles on the inner thigh) for the past couple of weeks. What has really happened to me? I feel my underwear drenched in sweat every morning when I change it. It itches a lot and the skin turns white and scaly when I itch the area. Is this jock itch? But I am not an athlete. So what is this really?


Answer

The reason an fungal infection in the groin area is called "jock itch" is because athletes frequently get it, but it is not limited to athletes. What the infection looks like varies with the type of fungus you pick up. All are itchy. Most involve red patches where the fungus is irritating the skin. Scaly skin and white areas can also be symptoms. The white bumps you are seeing may not all be from jock itch. Some may be Fordyce spots, which are actually normal for men.

Getting Rid of It

There are several things I'm going to have you do and hopefully it will mean you won't need a visit to the doctor to get this treated.

You need to get an anti-fungal medication and use it as directed. If it says to use it for two weeks, then use it for two full weeks, even if the obvious symptoms have disappeared. The problem is that the fungus buries itself deep into your skin, which is why you itch so badly. Using the medication for only a short while may get rid of the surface problems, but fungus will still be under the skin. The next time the conditions are right for growing, it will pop right back up.

Homemade remedies generally don't work. You might find one that works for one kind of fungus, but it won't always work. The over-the-counter anti-fungal medications made specifically for jock itch kill a wide variety of fungus and have been tested not to irritate your skin in that sensitive area.

You might be tempted to use a cortisone-based ointment to ease the itching, but this is actually counterproductive. "Cortisone creams, tried by many patients, help fungus grow! The rash may get less red and itchy at first, but spreads out and recurs, itchier than ever, when the cortisone is stopped" ["Fungus Infections: Preventing Recurrence", American Osteopathic College of Dermatology].

It isn't productive to try killing off the fungus, if you keep reinfecting yourself, so once you start using the medication, wash your bedding, towels, underwear and pajamas. Assume anything that comes into contact with your groin has picked up the spores, and you ant them gone.

Since you are waking up sweating, it means either you have too many blankets on or one of your blankets does not allow moisture to escape. The fungus that causes jock itch thrive in warm, moist areas, so you have to break the fungus' growth cycle. It may take several days, but start reducing the number of blankets you sleep under until you find a combination that leaves you warm but not sweating. Don't wrap yourself up in your bedding. You want air to flow around the sides of your body and escape with the moisture.

While you are treating the jock itch, you will sleep naked so that no moisture is trapped against your skin. If that seems difficult to do because you share your room, then strip off your clothes after you get under your blankets. You can dress again before you get out of bed.

And Keeping it Gone

  1. When you bathe, dry off thoroughly before dressing. Since the same fungus that causes jock itch also causes athlete's foot, dry your groin before you dry your feet, especially if you are showering in a public area. Otherwise, you will be bringing the fungus spores right where you don't want them.
  2. If at all possible, give yourself a chance to air dry. If you're at home, shave and take care of your toiletries before dressing. If you are in a more public area, loosely wrap a towel around your waist and then take care of a few things before dressing.
  3. Put on clean underwear after bathing. Otherwise, you will be reintroducing the same spores right back to your skin that you just washed off. You should change your underclothes daily anyway.
  4. Don't wear the underwear you wore all day to bed. Change into something light and loose so your skin has a chance to dry out. In the morning change again into your daytime clothing.
  5. If you are prone to get jock itch, switch to looser, lighter weight underwear that doesn't trap moisture. Loose boxers tend to be better than cotton briefs in this case.
  6. If you have a case of jock itch around your waistband, move your waistband up or down to avoid the area for about two weeks so it can dry off.
  7. Powders can help absorb moisture, but avoid the ones that contain cornstarch. The fungus that causes jock itch can feed on the nutrients in cornstarch.

The goal is to remove any accumulation of fungal spores so they don't infect your skin and to keep your skin dry so what spores may be present don't have a good environment in which to grow.