Is it inverse psoriasis or jock itch?
Inverse psoriasis is a form of psoriasis that affects the skin folds, including the folds around the genitals. Because of the location, people can confuse inverse psoriasis with jock itch or other fungal infections.
There are a number of differences between psoriasis and jock itch that can help people identify the cause of their skin rash.
In this article, we look at the similarities and differences between inverse psoriasis and jock itch, what triggers them, and how to relieve their symptoms.
Psoriasis and jock itch
Inverse psoriasis can affect the armpits and groin.
Image credit: DermNet New Zealand
Inverse psoriasis is a form of psoriasis — an autoimmune skin condition — that affects folds in the skin. Inverse psoriasis affects between 3 and 7 percent of all people with psoriasis and can play a role in genital psoriasis.
People with inverse or genital psoriasis develop red, painful areas of skin in the folds of the body, especially areas that experience sweat or skin-on-skin friction, such as:
- under the breasts
People are more likely to develop inverse psoriasis if they are overweight or have another form of psoriasis.
Jock itch, on the other hand, is not caused by an autoimmune disease, but by a fungus known as tinea cruris.
Jock itch causes an itchy, round-shaped rash near the groin area, on the buttocks, and on the inner thighs. Similarly to inverse psoriasis, sweat and friction can contribute to jock itch.
People are more likely to develop jock itch when they sweat a lot, making this a very common problem for athletes. People who are overweight are also at increased risk for developing jock itch.
Differentiating between inverse psoriasis and jock itch is easier when people know the symptoms and triggers of each.
Symptoms of psoriasis and jock itch
Symptoms of inverse psoriasis and jock itch can be very similar. They can both cause itchy, red skin in the groin area. But some nuances help tell the two conditions apart.
Whereas a rash caused by inverse psoriasis will be smooth and often shiny, one caused by jock itch is typically accompanied by peeling or flaking skin.
Symptoms of inverse psoriasis include:
- smooth areas of redness in the groin, armpits, or under breasts
- red areas that may appear shiny
- tenderness and pain
- patches of inflamed skin in the skin folds, without flaking
Symptoms of jock itch are similar to those of inverse psoriasis, and include:
- red skin, primarily in the creases of the groin, which may spread outwards
- circular or half-moon shaped areas of redness
- skin flaking or peeling
- cracked skin
- itching, burning, or stinging
Heavy sweating and friction from tight clothes can trigger both psoriasis and jock itch.
Different factors trigger inverse psoriasis flares and jock itch outbreaks.
Triggers for an inverse psoriasis flare vary from person-to-person. These triggers are likely to include the following:
- illnesses and infections, such as strep throat or respiratory infections
- high levels of stress
- certain medications, such as lithium, antimalarials, and some blood pressure medications
While science does not prove it, some people with inverse psoriasis suspect allergies and diet may also trigger psoriasis flares.
Unlike inverse psoriasis, a fungus that lives on the skin causes jock itch. Hence, anything that gives the fungus a better environment to multiply may trigger jock itch.
These triggers include:
- heavy sweating from exercise, sports, or hot weather
- friction from tight clothing or skin rubbing against skin
- moist skin or skin that a person has not dried properly
- sharing clothing, towels, or exercise equipment with others
Inverse psoriasis and jock itch also share some common triggers.
Both conditions are more likely to develop in areas that are sweaty or experience friction. They are also both more common in people who are overweight or obese.
In some cases, weather can trigger a flare of inverse psoriasis or make a person more likely to develop jock itch.
When to see a doctor
People who know they have either inverse psoriasis or jock itch may not need to see a doctor each time they have a flare of psoriasis or an outbreak of jock itch.
But people should talk to their doctor any time they experience skin changes that they have never had before, when home treatments do not work, or if they suspect an infection.
Treatment and remedies
Showering after sweating may help prevent and treat jock itch.
Treating both inverse psoriasis and jock itch involves managing delicate skin in sensitive areas of the body.
Gentle treatment options include home remedies and both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications.
Practicing good hygiene can help with both conditions. Take daily showers with warm water and gentle soap. After a shower, make sure to dry the skin thoroughly with a clean towel.
Maintaining a healthy weight can also ease symptoms of both psoriasis and jock itch.
People with inverse psoriasis may benefit from the following home remedies:
- avoiding and managing stress
- noting and avoiding any trigger foods or allergens
- taking baths with colloidal oatmeal, Epsom salt, or gentle bath oils
- moisturizing regularly with a gentle moisturizer
- staying away from very hot water and soap with irritants
- getting exposure to sunlight each day
People who experience frequent jock itch outbreaks can try the following home remedies:
- showering immediately after exercise or sports
- changing clothing after sweating
- wearing clean underwear every day
- keeping the groin, buttocks, and thigh area clean and dry
- using powder in the groin area to absorb extra moisture
- treating any other fungal infections on the body, such as athlete's foot
- not sharing clothes or sports equipment with others
- wiping down athletic equipment after use
- avoiding tight-fighting clothing
In the case of psoriasis, If home remedies do not help, a doctor may recommend the following treatments:
- steroid creams and ointments used sparingly on uncovered skin
- other topical medications
- UVB light therapy
- systemic treatments, which affect the whole body
Doctors may recommend OTC antifungal creams, sprays, or powders to treat jock itch. In severe cases, they may prescribe prescription-strength antifungal medication.
A new class of drugs, known as biologics, can treat the underlying cause of psoriasis symptoms. They can reduce the number of flares and the severity of symptoms. A doctor may recommend one of these treatments for a person with inverse psoriasis. Examples include etanercept (Enbrel) and infliximab (Remicade).
People with inverse psoriasis flares can also develop a fungal infection around the groin. Doctors will usually recommend an antifungal medication, as part of the treatment.
Inverse psoriasis is a skin condition that causes a red rash in the skin folds, often around the groin. Doctors may associate it with genital psoriasis. Jock itch causes a similar red rash around the crotch, so that people may confuse the two.
People can manage both inverse psoriasis and jock itch with specific lifestyle changes and treatments.
Discovering the proper treatment for inverse psoriasis can take some trial and error. People should consult with their doctor to find what works for them.
Cases of jock itch are generally mild to moderate and tend to resolve with no medical involvement needed. When necessary, doctors usually treat jock itch with antifungal medications.