Scrotal eczema, or scrotal dermatitis, is a noncontagious, itchy, and dry skin condition that affects the scrotum, the sac of skin containing the testicles. It can also involve the penis, groin, inner thighs, and around the anus.

Eczema is a broad term doctors use to describe a condition causing itchy and inflamed skin. Scrotal dermatitis may be due to atopic dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, or a combination of more than one type of eczema.

Scrotal eczema shares some of the same symptoms as eczema elsewhere on the body. This article explains these symptoms and how to treat and manage the condition.

Crop unrecognizable barefooted male standing on wooden mat in Vrikshasana pose while practicing yoga in park on sunny day representing scrotal eczema-1Share on Pinterest
Alvaro Medina Jurado/Getty Images

In scrotal eczema, the eczema flares occur on the scrotum, which is the skin around the sac that holds the testicles. Genital eczema may also affect the penis, groin, and skin around the anus and buttocks.

Eczema symptoms may vary depending on the condition’s severity. People may experience periods where symptoms worsen and periods where they improve. When eczema worsens, doctors call it a flare. Severe eczema flares may last for days or weeks.

Scrotal eczema symptoms may include:

On dark skin tones, a scrotal eczema flare-up may appear dark brown, purple, or ashen gray in color. On light skin tones, it can appear as red patches.

Continuously scratching or rubbing itchy skin can also lead to lichenification, which is thick, leathery skin that develops due to excessive scratching. It can make a person scratch more, causing an itch-scratch cycle.

Scratching the itchy skin can also open up sores, which become at risk of bacterial, fungal, or viral infection.

Similar conditions

Scrotal eczema shares symptoms with several other conditions that cause itching and irritation around the groin, including:

Some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) may also cause dry and itchy skin around the genitals. These include:

Related conditions

People with atopic dermatitis, which is a type of eczema, often have other conditions, including:

In addition, when a person experiences chronic itching and discomfort that is difficult to manage, they can experience depression or anxiety.

Depression and anxiety can have shared symptoms, so people should see a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis.

Some eczema risk factors are genetic, while others are environmental. The risk factors can vary according to the type of eczema a person has.

Scrotal dermatitis may occur as a reaction to something in the environment. This means it is a form of contact dermatitis. However, in other cases, it may be due to atopic dermatitis.

Risk factors for atopic dermatitis include:

  • Family history: The risk of developing atopic dermatitis is higher if there is a family history of atopic dermatitis, hay fever, or asthma.
  • Ethnicity: Research suggests atopic dermatitis is more common in non-Hispanic Black children.
  • Sex: Atopic dermatitis may be more common among females than males.
  • Genetics: Some people with atopic dermatitis have a mutation of the gene responsible for creating filaggrin, a protein that helps protect the skin barrier and keep skin moisturized.

Eczema triggers

Healthcare professionals refer to eczema triggers as any factors that contribute to or cause an eczema flare. Potential triggers for genital eczema in males include:

  • contact allergy, such as due to latex in condoms
  • irritation due to sweating, tight clothing, or skin friction
  • soaps or shower gels
  • aftershave or deodorant
  • antiseptics
  • hemorrhoid ointments
  • moist tissues or wipes

Atopic eczema may also worsen due to stress or environmental factors, such as dry, cold environments.

There is no cure for scrotal eczema, but treatments are available that can reduce symptoms. The main treatments for eczema include:

In some cases, a healthcare professional may prescribe medications known as topical calcineurin inhibitors (TCIs). These can treat sensitive areas such as the groin without thinning the skin.

If a person has an infection in an area with dermatitis, a doctor may prescribe additional medications such as antibiotics or antifungal medications.

In 2017, the Food and Drink Administration (FDA) approved the injectable immunomodulatory drug dupilumab (Dupixent) to treat atopic dermatitis and itchy skin. The FDA approved a similar biologic called tralokinumab-ldrm (Adbry) in 2021.

Anti-itch preparations may help relieve severe itching and discomfort. If nighttime itching prevents sleep, a healthcare professional may suggest a sedating antihistamine.

Additionally, a 2021 study highlights that ultraviolet (UV) ray therapy, phototherapy, may be effective in treating moderate to severe cases of eczema.

It is possible to prevent or manage scrotal eczema by identifying and removing eczema triggers and sources of irritation.

This could mean wearing loose clothing, stopping the use of any irritating over-the-counter (OTC) products, and having counseling to deal with stress.

Other potential steps to take include:

  • wear clothing that allows good air circulation around the testicles
  • regular bathing and moisturizing
  • avoid OTC topicals that cause skin irritation
  • avoid substances or materials that trigger an allergic reaction, such as scented detergents and softeners, and instead use gentle soap without a fragrance

Keeping the groin area clean is crucial. People should dry the area thoroughly but gently after each wash to help prevent or manage eczema on the skin.

It is essential that people with scrotal eczema avoid scratching the area.

If someone uses a steroid cream to treat their eczema, they should wait until the cream is thoroughly dry before applying a moisturizer.

Some condoms and spermicides may irritate the skin. If these do cause a problem, a doctor can suggest an alternative.

People should contact their doctor if they experience any signs of irritation. Doing so can help avoid worsening eczema symptoms or uncover an underlying related medical condition.

Below are some common questions about scrotal eczema.

Is scrotal eczema normal?

Estimates suggest that 1 in 10 Americans may experience eczema in their lifetime. Although eczema most commonly affects areas such as the hands, scalp, and elbows, it can occur anywhere on the body.

Irritation due to sweating, tight clothing, or skin friction around the scrotum can trigger eczema flare-ups. People can speak with a doctor to learn about the best treatment for them.

How does someone get rid of scrotal eczema?

There is no cure for scrotal eczema. However, a person can manage it through a combination of prescription and OTC medications and by avoiding exposure to triggers such as allergens and irritants.

What is the difference between scrotal eczema and jock itch?

Jock itch is a fungal infection of the skin that causes an itchy, red, ring-shaped rash in the groin area. Scrotal eczema is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that appears in relapsing periods of “flares.”

Are there home remedies for scrotal eczema?

Home remedies that may relieve eczema symptoms include an oatmeal bath and a regular moisturizing routine. Wearing cotton underwear and avoiding irritating soaps may also help relieve scrotal eczema.

Learn more about natural remedies for eczema here.

Scrotal eczema, like eczema found elsewhere on the body, may occur due to irritants coming into contact with the skin. Irritants can include heat and humidity, OTC topical products, and contraceptives, such as condoms.

Home remedies and avoiding triggers can help relieve scrotal eczema symptoms. However, more severe cases may require treatments, such as steroids, antihistamines, or UV ray therapy.

Scrotal eczema may progress from mild to more serious stages quickly without treatment. It can also indicate a more serious underlying health condition. It’s advisable for a person to speak with a doctor if they notice symptoms appearing.