If you suffer from itching and dryness in the groin and upper thighs, you're not alone. Tinea cruris, known as jock itch, is quite common. It's a fungal infection caused by mold-like fungi called dermatophytes. Everyone has these little molds living on them, and these fungi do best in warm, dark areas. When you sweat but don't dry yourself properly -- especially in the groin -- these dermatophytes thrive. In fact, hygiene and how much you sweat are the main determinants as to whether you may get jock itch and how severe it is, but eating well, which bolsters your immune system, may help keep the infection at bay.
Boost Your Immune System
Dermatophytes thrive on human skin, especially in moist areas, so it's difficult -- if not impossible -- to eliminate them solely by diet. An eating plan that bolsters the skin's immune system could help make you less vulnerable to jock itch, but it won't protect you completely. At meals, emphasize fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grains because they contain high quantities of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, which keep your whole body, including your skin, healthy. Lean proteins, such as fish and poultry, and healthy fats, including olive oil and nuts, round out an immune-system boosting plan. Most of your diet should be made up of whole, natural foods that have a minimal number of chemicals, preservatives and added sugars. Getting enough sleep, minimizing your alcohol intake and maintaining a healthy weight also keeps your immune system strong.
Specific Nutrients May Help
Although no specific nutrient will cure or prevent jock itch, certain nutrients can fortify your skin's line of defense. Selenium, a trace mineral and antioxidant, helps fight free radicals -- which are compounds in the environment that compromise your cells -- and you can find selenium in Brazil nuts, eggs, meat and fish. Vitamin C, another antioxidant prevalent in citrus, cantaloupe and strawberries, is a powerful nutrient that helps keep your skin strong.
How to Stop Jock Itch
Jock itch is different from the yeast infections that candida albicans can cause, which can be found in women's vaginas, on the skin and in mucus membranes. You can treat candida through diet, but jock itch -- once it's set in -- you can't treat it by diet. Instead, clean the area regularly and dry it completely. Use a different towel for the rest of your body than the one you use for your jock itch. Antifungal products, including creams, powders and sprays, can be effective and you should continue using them for as long as directed. If you stop using the treatment the moment you notice a reduction in your symptoms, it is likely the jock itch will return. Wear clean, fresh clothes -- especially undergarments -- daily.
Have Good Hygiene Habits
Along with a healthy diet, taking care of your body after exercise and showering can help reduce outbreaks of jock itch. Shower as soon as you can after you work out or play sports. Use a clean towel to dry yourself after bathing or swimming to reduce the moisture between the thighs and the groin. Don't share towels. And guys should always wash their athletic supporters. Although it's more usual for men to get jock itch, women can get it, too.
- Kids Health: Jock Itch
- Advances in Dermatology: Chronic Dermatophytosis: What Is Special About Trichophyton Rubrum?
- Food Matters: How to Overcome Candida Naturally
- Columbia University: Jock Itch and Yeast Infection: Is There a Connection?
- Harvard Health Publications: How to Boost Your Immune System
- Hello: What to Eat for Healthier Skin, An Energy Boost and Stronger Immune System