Itching of the skin can occur in any region of the body. However, it is more likely to occur in regions that contain skin folds, such as the groin. The groin refers to the region of the skin in front of the body that lies between the upper thighs and the genitals. An itch here is more disconcerting compared because it is considered socially inappropriate to relieve the itch by touching the groin area in public. Medically, however, an itchy groin may or may not be a cause of concern.
Other symptoms of an itchy groin
An itch in the groin region is a common occurrence and is a symptom of various skin problems. This itchy feeling can either be temporary or persistent. A temporary itch can be relieved by scratching and is usually not a cause of any further concern. In case of a persistent itch, the skin of the groin could also show other symptoms such as:
A persistent itch in the groin that is accompanied by any of the above mentioned symptoms may indicate an underlying skin condition that requires medical intervention.
Causes of an itchy groin
An itchy groin could result from a number of factors. Some of the common reasons are described below but there are various other possible causes. It is therefore important to have the condition assessed by a medical professional so that the underlying cause can be accurately diagnosed. Sometimes the cause of an itchy groin can be an extension of a condition causing an itchy anus.
Poor personal hygiene
A lack of regular personal hygiene pertaining to the groin, genital and perineal regions is one of the most common causes of an itchy groin. The skin folds of the groin provide perfect crevices for the accumulation of sweat, dust, dead skin cells, and pathogens such as bacteria and fungi. Even urine and fecal particles can be accumulate in these skin folds, resulting in irritation and itching. A daily routine of bathing and cleaning the skin in the groin, genital and perineal regions is essential to maintain a proper skin hygiene and preventing an itchy groin.
Exposure to irritants
Apart from the natural secretions and excretions mentioned above, a variety of chemicals used for cosmetic purposes could result in an irritated skin in the groin region. Some common cosmetics linked to an itchy skin include soaps, shampoos, creams, lotions and powders. These substances usually do not cause any adverse skin reactions in most people.
However, some people can be sensitive to certain chemicals present in these cosmetics. In addition to chemicals present in cosmetics, the clothing material of the underwear could also cause an itchy groin. This can either be due to the sensitiveness of skin to the cloth that the underwear is made of or chafing of the skin caused by a tight underwear.
A variety of bacterial, fungal and viral infections can result in itching of the skin in the groin and nearby regions.
For example, chickenpox caused by the virus varicella zoster, is a viral infection that results in strong itching sensations throughout the body, including the groin region. Itching in this case worsens with scratching. Jock’s itch or ringworm is another skin infection that causes severe itching in the groin region. It is caused by a variety of different fungi.
Skin fungal infection picture
Bacterial and fungal infections usually do not occur if the skin is healthy and intact. Scratching and chafing in the groin region can disrupt the barrier function of the skin and facilitate establishment of these skin infections. Moisture trapped between the skin folds of the groin also provides a conducive environment for fungal infections to set in.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
An itchy groin is also a common complaint in cases of some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The genitals are the primary areas that are affected in STDs but the infection from there could spread to the nearby pubic and groin regions. Itching in these cases could be accompanied by skin rashes. Some examples of STDs that can cause an itchy groin are genital herpes, genital warts, gonorrhea and trichomoniasis.
Parasitic infestations can also result in an itchy skin at different regions on the body. Sometimes, the groin is also affected. The two most common parasites that cause itchy skin are pubic lice and the scabies mite.
Different types of lice cause specific infections in different parts of the body. The lice that specifically affects the groin region is known as the pubic lice or crabs. Public lice is a tiny insect that colonizes the pubic hair and causes severe itch in the region by feeding off the host. Pubic lice infestation, also known as Phthiriasis pubis, is characterized by groin itching worse at night, bluish-gray rash and genital sores.
Mites cause intense itching by burrowing themselves into the skin. An example is scabies, which is caused by infestation with a small mite called Sarcoptes scabiei. Scabies is characterized by blisters and bumps in the region of the skin where the mite has penetrated the skin. Even the burrowing tracks of the mites might be visible in the affected region.
Picture of scabies mite rash
Psoriasis is a skin disease that causes intense itching. Scratching may not provide relief from itching in this condition. Psoriasis is due to a chronic inflammatory condition of the skin, in which the affected region might develop plaques due to skin overgrowth. Psoriasis can occur in the skin of any region of the body, including that of the groin.
The most likely type of psoriasis to affect the groin area is known as inverse psoriasis. The characteristic appearance of inverse psoriasis is a skin rash that is reddish, shiny and smooth to touch. Even though the skin might clear up, the condition tends to recur after a few weeks, months or even years.
Contact dermatitis refers to an inflammatory reaction of the skin upon contact with either an allergen or an irritant. Allergic contact dermatitis occurs in persons who are hypersensitive to things such as certain textile materials and cosmetics. Itching can be triggered in these individuals when they wear undergarments or apply soaps, shampoos and creams that contain the allergens to which they are sensitive.
Itching in irritant contact dermatitis happens when an individual comes in contact with certain irritant substances such as sweat, urine, cosmetics, jewelry and even water. A person need not be allergic to these substances in order to develop the itching reaction.
Identifying and preventing further contact with the allergen or irritant helps in relieving the itching due to contact dermatitis.