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Hiker’s Jock Itch: Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment

Great Balls of Fire!
Great Balls of Fire!

If you’re experiencing a persistent chafing sensation in your groin that won’t go away, you may have jock itch (tinea crusis) a fungal infection  similar to athlete’s foot, common to hikers and backpackers (both male and female) that causes persistent itching, burning, cracking, and scaling of skin in the genital area. Backpackers are particularly good targets for the jock itch fungi that thrive in unwashed, sweaty groins.


  • Itching or a burning sensation in the groin area, thigh skin folds, a-hole, inner thighs or genital areas.
  • Affected skin may appear red, tan, or brown, with flaking, rippling, peeling, or cracking skin
  • Begins with an area in the groin fold about a half-inch across, usually on both sides.


  • Limit moisture build-up by wearing boxer briefs made with synthetic materials such as Under Armour Mesh 6″ boxer jocks.
  • Wash out your underwear and dry it every day.
  • Apply corn starch or baby powder to your crotch each morning to help keep the area dry.
  • Bathe at least daily after strenuous activity, like hiking all day.
  • Wear “cleaner and drier” sleeping shorts or long underwear at night while backpacking
  • Jock itch is highly contagious, so avoid shaking hands with anyone who has the condition.
  • In addition, avoid genital contact which can spread the fungus to another person.


Jock itch is best treated with topical antifungal medications such as Lamisil (terbinafine hydrochloride 1%), which is readily available in most drug stores. Apply it once per day, morning or night (as directed), and it will clear up your condition while you hike, within one week.

Lamisil will instantly help relieve the itching and help lubricate the area, which will start to clear up in a few days. While Lamisil and generic terbinafine hydrochloride 1% cream can also be used to cure athlete’s foot, the same cannot be said of treatments that are athlete’s foot specific.

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  1. Or, if you want an easier solution – and if you’ve got the balls – then wear a hiking kilt instead. No sweat, no moist breeding ground, just pure natural ventilation .
    Oh yes ……. and the ladies LOVE a guy in a kilt !!

  2. How about a solution to swamp butt? I think my ghetto booty is too big and the chaffing is real, lol.

  3. Gold Bond Powder. I have been using the man made fiber underwear from REI for so long I cannot remember when I bought the three pair, which I found cheaper than UA stuff which to me is hugely over priced on everything they sell. Going commando is another option and for other issues I found carrying a small bottle of Lubriderm was the most useful for every problem in the nether regions that I experienced. Many over night successes in many instances due to sweat salt build up and irratation from the rubbing of those tiny salt crystals between folds of skin especially just below the tail bone. Do not have enough Kleenex along for making topical applications? I use Mule ears or the very soft leaves from the Mullien plant and they are very biodegradable as well. Even if I do not have a problem if I see the plant I’ll slice off a few leaves to take with me..just in case.

  4. Another plus of the nightly bandanna bath ritual and sleeping clothes. Great for dry camping.

    I still prefer running shorts over long pants and do tick checks throughout the day. It works unless you’re bushwhacking through brush. Running shorts are much much more comfortable and cooler to hike in and will always dry much faster than any underwear-pants combination.

  5. A least expensive treatment is with either Miconazole or Clotrimazole creams.They are also available in most retail drug stores,supermarkets,etc.

    • Beckie (Beckie and Prema on the trail reports)

      Those sound like the active ingredients in the various Monistat products and other treatments (both prescription and OTC) that are used for yeast infections, vaginitis, etc. Usually very effective. A good chaser to antibiotics!

  6. “Jock itch is highly contagious, so avoid shaking hands with anyone who has the condition, including genital contact”

    I don’t know how you all shake hands, but in New England, genital contact is not an issue when shaking hands.

  7. I recall a product, a male hygiene product, called either
    “BALLS OF FIRE” or,
    that hit the shelves in 1973/1974. It didn’t last very long. I am interested in finding an unopened box. Any suggestions helpful.

  8. FreshBalls is a great product I’ve been using for a while now. It’s a lotion you apply that dries to a cooling powder. Try it.

  9. The problem is we use a medicine to cure jock itch, and after weeks or month it comes back. Is there a permanent solution?

  10. The natural mineral salt underarm deodorant is what I’ve used for years, its never let me down.

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