Genital herpes and jock itch are rarely confused, but genital herpes in its early stages may be mistaken for jock itch since both conditions have similar symptoms. They are both uncomfortable, produce red, irritated skin and appear in the thighs, groin or genital area. However, they are usually quite easy to differentiate. This article is designed to help you avoid making the mix-up.
Jock itch is caused from a fungus called Trichophyton rubrum. It can grow anywhere on the body, but most often shows up in the warm, moist areas of the groin. Sweaty or tight-fitting clothing and direct contact with the fungus can lead to a case of jock itch. Jock itch may occur in both men and women, but mostly affects adult men. Like genital herpes, jock itch may be contagious and can be passed from one person to the next by skin-to-skin contact or contact with unwashed clothing.
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted virus. The virus may remain dormant for some time, but an outbreak will usually occur within 30 days of sexual contact. The first herpes outbreak is usually the most severe but not necessarily. Stages of a herpes infection are as follows: itchiness, a rash, stinging, burning, swelling, blistering, sores, crusts and a return to healthy skin with no scarring. These symptoms usually don’t last more than 3 weeks. Genital herpes symptoms may vary greatly and may consist of only a mild rash that disappears within 10 days and may return occasionally.
The confusion in self-diagnosing each condition occurs because both diseases affect the groin area. Both start with a red rash, itching and bumps on the skin. They are uncomfortable and can cause pain for several days. Jock itch usually causes red, raised, scaly patches that may blister and ooze. The patches are often redder around the outside with normal skin tone in the center. This may cause a red ring to appear. The skin may become abnormally dark or light.
Jock itch differs from genital herpes in that it usually doesn’t develop on the scrotum or penis. It tends to spread in the inner thigh area instead. However, a jock itch rash may also affect the genitals and areas around the anus, rectum, or vagina. The skin may crack, scale and be painful, but it usually won’t present open lesions like it would with genital herpes. Genital herpes doesn’t cause long-term infections. Healthy skin returns after 3 weeks, although slight change in skin color may result. Jock itch and genital herpes symptoms can both recur at any time. Jock itch can be cured after each episode but no cure or vaccine has been found for herpes yet.
The only sure way to tell which condition you have is to see a doctor. Doctors can usually recognize jock itch during a physical examination. But at times, they may decide to do a test. They will either perform a swab test if blisters are present or a skin lesion biopsy by scraping the skin. If all else fails, a blood test should remove any doubts.
To cure jock itch, a doctor will prescribe an anti-fungal cream or lotion to apply directly to the source of the fungal infection. Doctors can prescribe medication, or if you suffer from recurring fungal infections, over the counter medicine like Tinactin, Lotrimin and Micatin are available. The cream should be used for two weeks, and continued for several days after the rash is completely gone. If your jock itch doesn’t clear up or causes blisters, you should go to your doctor to have a physical examination.
Genital herpes can’t be cured, but its symptoms can be treated with an anti-viral medicine, which will help limit the duration of an outbreak.
Relief can be found for both conditions by checking with your doctor. Wear loose clothing, breathable cotton and quickly change out of sweaty clothes to prevent jock itch. Once you have contracted genital herpes, you can take measures to prevent outbreaks by eating a good diet, exercising and reducing your stress levels and taking antiviral treatment daily.