Jock itch, or tinea cruris, can be a nightmare for cyclists.
Being a fungal infection, the conditions created by cycling can unfortunately provide an ideal environment for jock itch to thrive. Itching, chafing and burning are all worsened by the repetitive motion of pedalling while cycling. Not to mention it can be pretty embarrassing when you have to reach down and scratch while riding in public.
Controlling jock itch for cyclists is best dealt with by a combination of prevention and treatment.
The Best Prevention for Jock Itch when riding a bike is…
The first line of defense against developing jock itch as a cyclist is a good preventative strategy. Fungus does best in warm and moist areas. Controlling moisture is the most important part of preventing jock itch. Moisture is essentially unavoidable while riding due to increased sweating. The best option to control this while riding is investing in a good pair of riding shorts and underwear that are sweat wicking.
Bicycle shorts can be worn with or without underwear, but this is a personal preference and depends on the design of the shorts being worn. Shorts and underwear should not be made out of cotton, but instead of material specifically designed to control moisture. Cotton will absorb water and hold moisture against your skin. Additionally there are shorts available that are made with antimicrobial fabrics.
It is also important to wear socks that are designed to control sweat. Your feet are susceptible to fungal infection as well, and a case of a fungal foot infection can easily spread to your crotch. Some of the fungi responsible for athletes foot are the same fungi responsible for jock itch.
Fungus spreads by spores, and the spores from your feet can transfer to your crotch, especially while dressing. For this reason, some recommend putting socks on before underwear to avoid dragging fungus spores from your feet to your crotch.
You should take care to change out off your riding clothes as soon as possible when finished riding. Not only is sitting around in hot and sweaty socks and underwear pretty gross, it is a great way to invite microbes to make themselves at home in your crotch and feet.
Riding shorts, socks and underwear need to be washed after every use. Not washing your clothes between rides allows the fungus you multiply in your clothes and is just asking for an infection. If you are a frequent rider, buying extra pairs of clothes might seem like a big investment but it is a good way to avoid being tempted to reuse anything before a good washing.
Wearing a fresh pair of clothes for every ride will help prevent jock itch and will keep you from smelling bad. Washing riding shorts does not have to be difficult.
Hot tip – Some riders suggest washing shorts in the sink while showering and allowing them allowing them to air dry.
Prevention also takes place while not on your bicycle. Controlling moisture in your crotch area throughout the day and good hygiene are critical to preventing a jock itch infection. After showering, be sure to dry your groin thoroughly with a clean towel. Some people even use a hair dryer to ensure complete drying. If showering in a communal area such as a gym locker room, take care to avoid contact with surfaces that have come in contact with other people.
Bring an extra pair of flip flops to use in the shower.
If showering at home, make sure to keep your bathroom and shower clean. Removing pubic hair can also help to decrease moisture buildup but generally shaving entirely is not recommended due to increased risk of chafing. Instead, trimming is recommended.
A good over the counter antimicrobial soap such as Defense Soap is a great natural way to keep your skin in ideal condition to prevent fungal infection. Clean underwear can go a long way in preventing infection, and your partner will appreciate this too. Have a look at our top 5 recommended underwear for jock itch prevention here.
Good nutrition is paramount to keeping your immune system in gear.
Specifically probiotics can be helpful when preventing jock itch. They help maintain your normal body flora which will help keep jock itch at bay. Probiotics can be taken as a supplement or through fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi or sauerkraut.
The Best Treatment when it comes to Jock Itch and cycling is…
If, despite prevention, you have developed a jock itch infection, don’t worry. You don’t have to stop cycling. Whether it be road racing, mountain biking or the daily commute, you don’t have to let jock itch get in the way of your hobby.
The first step is to continue with the preventive techniques previously stated.
Continue working to create an environment that jock itch will hate to live in. Clean, dry and cool needs to be your mantra while waging war on jock itch.
Sanitize all areas that may have come in contact with spores from jock itch, such as your shower.
If you have a fungal infection on your feet, do not dry your feet with the same towel that you dry your crotch with. All of your clothes will also need a thorough cleaning, preferably with vinegar.
The next step is to work on treating the jock itch (tinea cruris) infection directly.
There are a number of over the counter treatments available, and these generally work by utilizing some type of anti-fungal agent. These treatments will be available in either a cream, powder or spray form. (Want to know whether we think powders or sprays are better for kicking jock itches ass? Have a look at our in depth spray vs powder comparison here).
Many prefer spray to cream or powder due to the ease and cleanliness of application. One of the best over the counter remedies is Tinactin Jock Itch Spray. Application occurs twice a day to dry skin, and many report significant relief within a few days. Treatment is generally continued for a period of time even after the symptoms have cleared in order to ensure the infection is completely gone.
If over the counter treatments are not working, going to the doctor is the next step.
You may have a different type of skin infection that could require antibiotics or some other form of treatment. Sometimes jock itch can become severe and can require oral anti-fungal medications.
Recurrent jock itch may be a sign of an underlying medical condition, so get yourself to a doctor pronto!