What Is Crotch Rot?

Crotch rot, also known as jock itch, is a form of ringworm. It's an itchy groin rash that has numerous causes. Crotch rot can appear on your genitals, inner thighs and buttocks. It's common in people who sweat a lot. You'll learn what causes it, how to prevent it and how to treat it if you do get it.

\What Causes Crotch Rot?

Crotch rot can be caused by skin friction, humidity, heat, tight clothing, fungus, yeasts and infections by certain types of bacteria. 

When you're backpacking not only are you exposed to heat, humidity and all sorts of wild microbes, but you usually aren't able to shower/bathe so it's much easier to suffer something nasty like crotch rot.

How to Tell If You Have Crotch Rot

The first sign of crotch rot is redness and aggravation around the groin or thigh area.  Red skin is a sign of irritation and is usually the first sign of crotch rot.

Another identifiable feature of crotch rot is the smell.  Since crotch rot is caused by a bacterial infection, it will often have a yeast smell.

Usually the smell of crotch rot is pretty faint and not that noticeable to other people, but if you notice it on yourself then you can be pretty sure you've got a case of crotch rot/jock itch.

How to Prevent Crotch Rot

The best cure for crotch rot is to shower or bathe right after you're done hiking or exercising.  We recommend something like Camp Suds which is biodegradable and backpacker friendly soap.

Another way you can prevent crotch rot is to wear underwear that will keep you nice and dry.  ExOfficio makes some great underwear that are made of nylon and spandex so they don't get wet like cotton.

If you're going to be backpacking with the same clothes, it's helpful if you can wash your underwear when you set up camp for the night.

Another clothing tip for preventing crotch rot is to wear loose fitting clothes.  The more airflow you can get, the better your odds of preventing jock itch.

Washing your underwear and killing the bacteria that cause crotch rot is the best way to prevent it from happening.

How to Treat Crotch Rot

The best option for treating crotch rot is to apply a topical cream.

You can use creams to treat crotch rot if you have a mild infection. Lamisil, Naftin and Lotrimin Ultra will get rid of jock itch quickly. If you can't afford these creams, ask your doctor for a prescription cream. If you don't have health insurance, you can purchase cheaper creams that contain clotrimazole or miconazole. Creams with clotrimazole or miconazole may take longer to work.

Be sure to continue applying the cream to the areas that you've been treating for infection even when the symptoms disappear. Continue to apply the cream for the amount of time specified on the package.

Another treatment option for more stubborn cases of crotch rot is oral medications that would be prescribed by your doctor.

Your physician may prescribe you Sporanox, Diflucan or Lamisil for anywhere between one month to one year. If you're allergic to other medications that treat crotch rot, your physician may prescribe you Grifulvin V. It's a good option for people who're allergic to other medications even though it takes longer to cure crotch rot.

Some people claim that apple cider vinegar is a more natural alternative to treating crotch rot.  I can't vouch for how well this works but if you'd like to avoid prescription strength creams then apple cider vinegar can be a viable alternative.  Apple cider vinegar is the only viable home remedy for crotch rot.  Any other home remedies you read about are just old wive's tales and have little, if any, scientific backing to them.

If you choose to use apple cider vinegar you'll want to dilute it 50/50 with water and apply it using a spray bottle.  Don't try to apply apple cider vinegar directly to your skin; you need to dilute it first to avoid skin irritation.

Final Words of Crotch Rot Wisdom

Crotch rot (aka jock itch) is nasty and can be really annoying, especially if you get it in the middle of a backpacking trip.

The best options for prevention is to wear loose clothing and underwear that are made of synthetic material; basically anything that isn't cotton.

If you're prone to crotch rot and you've had it before, it might be worth taking along some Lotrimin in your backpack so you can treat yourself in the back country if you get any signs of crotch rot showing up during your hike.