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Causes of an Inner Groin Rash

author image Katherine Mariaca
Katherine Mariaca is a professional freelance journalist who specializes in alternative and complementary medicine, and skin and body care treatments. A longtime spa director and VP of skin care companies, Mariaca developed products and services for the spa industry. She earned a B.S. from Tufts and an M.F.A. from Lesley.
Causes of an Inner Groin Rash
Tight clothing traps heat and moisture, an ideal environment for rashes. Photo Credit Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images

The constant supply of moisture, in the form of perspiration, tight clothing, skin creases where chaffing can occur, and the normal proliferation of fungi and bacteria on the skin, make the inner groin area an ideal location for skin disorders to develop. While the condition that results will depend upon a variety of factors, including the pathogen involved, symptoms generally include rash and itch.


When moist areas of skin rub against each other, an itchy rash can result. Intertrigo rash is characterized by a reddish-brown itchy patch where chaffing occurs, particularly in skin folds, according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. The groin area, which is characteristically moist and includes various creased areas of skin, is a prime location for intertrigo to develop.

Ooze and crusting may accompany the outbreak as the affected area breaks down and tears open in the skin. When skin tears, fungi and bacteria can enter the site and cause further damage to skin.

Jock Itch

Caused by a microscopic fungus, jock itch can cause severe itching. Dr. Barry L. Hainer at the Medical University of South Carolina, reports in "American Family Physicians" that when a pervasive group of fungi, called dermatophytes, get past the skin's protective barriers, they populate the uppermost layer of skin. That layer of skin, called the stratum corneum, is made of keratinized skin cells.

Keratin, a protein found in the cells of the stratum corneum, is broken down by enzymes produced by dermatophytes. The process of breaking down the keratin and metabolizing it by dermatophytes causes an itchy response in skin.


Erythrasma is a bacterial infection caused by Corynebacterium minutissimum. DermaNet NZ reports that the infection causes an expanding red rash in skin folds that may include itching. The groin and underarm areas are common sites for this infection to occur. Erythrasma can occur alongside a candida albicans or a dermatophyte infection.


Folliculitis is an itchy rash located around hair follicles. Small pimples are common and, in severe cases, furuncles, which are deeper infections, can occur. While folliculitis can occur anywhere there are hair follicles, the groin area is a prime location for the condition, as tight clothing can exacerbate the condition.

Cleveland Clinic reports that the most common pathogen involved in this type of infection is Staphylococci aureus. DermaNet NZ reports that between 15 and 40 percent of healthy individuals carry the S. aureus bacteria. Exposure to Pseudomonas aeruginosa, found in hot tubs, can also cause the infection.

Yeast Infection

Candida albicans is a yeast-like fungus that normally resides in and on humans and which is normally controlled by helpful bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, but is repelled by protective barriers on the skin. When the immune system is impaired, or when the protective skin barriers are breached, candida albicans can overpopulate and cause an infection.

In women, the infection is called "candidal vulvovaginitis" and its symptoms include itching and vaginal discharge. In men, the infection is called "balantis." Cleveland Clinic reports that balantis occurs most often in uncircumcised men. The infection usually begins at the tip of the penis and works its way down to the groin area where it can also infect the scrotum. Reddish rashes, along with itch, are common symptoms of balantis.


While inner groin rashes can be painful and irritating, treatments are available. Mayo Clinic reports that over-the-counter treatments for ringworm, including jock itch, usually clear the infection. In more severe cases, a prescription oral medication may be necessary.

Keeping skin dry is important with jock itch, as well as in cases of intertrigo. Intertrigo can be treated with nonprescription zinc oxide or an anti-fungal medication. Mayo Clinic reports that erythrasma may be treated with the antibiotic erythromycin.

Folliculitis can clear up on its own. If not, an anti-fungal or antibiotic may be necessary. Anti-fungals are used to treat yeast infections.

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