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What is ringworm of the groin (Tinea cruris)?

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Tinea cruris is a fungal skin infection of the groin (and sometimes the scrotum too). The fungi which can cause a skin infection (dermatophytes) can be divided into three groups according to their favourite hosts: Fungi preferring earth (geophile), fungi preferring animals (zoophile), and fungi preferring humans (anthropophile). An infection of the groin is usually caused by anthropophile fungi. The most common species are Epidermophyton floccosum and Tricophyton rubrum.

The scientific terms for ringworm of the groin are Tinea cruris or Dermatophytosis inguinalis/inguinioscrotalis.  Almost everyone has at least one of the fungi which can cause an infection of the groin on their bodies. The fungi feed on dead skin cells and are usually harmless. The condition is more common in men than in women. The fungi love warm, moist places, and they are often a problem for men with active life-styles, or men who do not look after their personal hygiene carefully enough.

The infection is contagious and can be spread by direct contact. It can also be passed indirectly from person to person, via damp towels for instance. The infection often takes the form of a fairly large, scaly, red-brown patch on the groin. This can stretch all the way from the groin to the scrotum. The ridge around the infected area is often very different in colour and feel to the surrounding uninfected skin. There is often an itching, burning sensation in the infected area. The disease is most active at the edges of the patch. Good general hygiene is vital in order to prevent tinea cruris. Wash every day and dry your skin carefully.  Change clothes daily, especially underwear. There are several classic symptoms, and the diagnosis can often be made immediately. A scrape may be made for cultivation and examination under a microscope. The infection can be treated with an antifungal cream (local treatment), or with tablets (systemic treatment).

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