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Difference Between Ringworm and Jock Itch

What is ringworm and jock itch?

Ringworm and jock itch are fungal infections known collectively as tinea. Both are very contagious. Ringworm is a fungal infection that can happen anywhere in the body and even scalp. Jock itch fungal infection happens in the groin, inner thighs and the buttock areas. Both infections are easy to diagnose and can be treated with anti-fungal medications. 


Both ringworm and jock itch are fungal infections.

Both are collectively termed as tinea.

Both are caused by fungi known as dermatophytes


Unlike its name, it has nothing to do with worms. Ringworm, also termed as dermatophytosis, dermatophyte infection, or tinea is one of the most common skin or scalp fungal infections. It can affect most of the body parts like it appears on the trunk of the body, legs, groin, arms, feet, or scalp. It is highly contagious and the fungi thrives in moist environment. The infection can spread by contact with the infected person, object. The symptoms of ringworm include, ring-shaped rashes, blisters, itchy scalp, fissures etc. 

Jock itch

Jock itch – also termed as Tinea cruris, is a fungal infection that is quite common in men. It is caused by the fungi that attacks the genitals, groin area, buttocks and inner thighs. This is because these areas trap moisture from sweat and that allows the jock itch causing fungi to grow and reproduce. It causes red or pink rash, intense itches or burns. 

Difference between ringworm and jock itch



Unlike its name, ringworm has nothing to do with worms. 3 different types of fungi that can cause ringworm include – Microsporum, Trichophyton, and Epidermophyton. It is a fungal infection of the scalp and skin and is highly contagious. Ringworm infection is typically scaly and could be itchy and red. The patch is raised at the edges and this infection is common in children. 

Jock itch

It is a fungal infection of the groin area and gets its name from the fact that this fungal infection is common in athletes. Also termed as tinea cruris, the infection causes an itchy red rash in the groin, buttocks and inner thighs areas. The symptoms include flaking or cracked skin scaly, red or brown patches. It is caused by dermatophytes fungi that thrive in wet environments. It isn’t serious and treatments involves keeping groin area moisture free and applying anti-fungal creams to the infected area.



  • Itchy, Red, or scaly patches
  • Patches that turn into pustules and blisters
  • Raised areas of skin termed as plaques
  • Patches resembling a ring and the ring may appear redder on the edges in comparison to the interior region of the ring 
  • Defined and raised edges 

Jock itch

  • Redness
  • Flaking, cracking, or cracking skin
  • burning sensation
  • Persistent itching
  • Rash that gets worse with exercise 
  • Skin color changes
  • No improvement in rash and spreads with OTC hydrocortisone (anti-itch) cream

Risk factors


You can get ringworm if you:

  • Have minor nail and skin injuries
  • Come in close contact with people who have ringworm fungal infection – like sharing infected individuals’ clothes and towels, sharing a room with someone who is infected
  • Are not taking bath and drying off completely after too much sweating
  • Have a damp skin for longer durations of time

Jock itch

You can get Jock itch fungal infection:

  • If you wear tight clothes that makes your skin irritable
  • There is moisture in your groin area due to sweating
  • If you wear a wet bathing gear for a long duration of time
  • You are in close contact with someone who is infected with jock itch
  • Share wet and damp and sweaty towels or clothes with other 
  • If you are overweight 
  • If you a weak immune system or have blood sugar


The points of difference between ringworm and jock itch have been summarized as below:


Does jock itch cream work on ringworm?

Yes, since both are fungal infections, non-prescription antifungal creams, lotions, or powders work for both infections and can be applied to the skin for 2 to 4 weeks.

Can you get ringworm from jock itch?

Fungal infection can spread from the groin area and infect other parts of the body. It usually happens by skin-to-skin contact or sexual contact. For example, when an individual gets in contact with the genital of someone infected with jock itch could then develop infection of ring work – the infection will happen on their hands. 

What kills jock itch fast?

Over-the-counter (OTC) topical antifungal remedies or drugs with terbinafine, naftifine, or butenafine can eliminate the fungal infection in 2 or 3 weeks with daily application at least once.  

Can you get ringworm on your privates?

Ringworm of the groin, called Jock itch (tinea cruris) is the infection, that one can get in the privates.  

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References :

[0]Darade, R. B., Zambare, K. K., Jaiswal, N. R., & Kaware, A. A. (2019). AN OVERVIEW ON PHARMACOTHERAPY OF JOCK ITCH (TINEA CRURIS).

[1]OTC, L. U. (2017). t TINEA CORPORIS (RINGWORM). The PA’s Complete Guide to Prescribing Drug Therapy 2018, 448.

[2]Sahoo, A. K., & Mahajan, R. (2016). Management of tinea corporis, tinea cruris, and tinea pedis: A comprehensive review. Indian dermatology online journal, 7(2), 77.

[3]Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jock_itch_pie_de_atleta.jpg

[4]Image credit: https://www.canva.com/photos/MAEEzcxcbX4-ringworm/

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