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ALL THAT SCRATCHIN’S MAKING ME ITCH

All that Scratchin’s making me itch

7 Reasons Your Crotch Is So Damn Itchy

Guys like scratching their balls. But a persistently itchy crotch can be a bummer. Scratching only makes the situation worse. For relief to that itch in your groin area, you need to figure out the cause. It could be anything from an allergic reaction to a new laundry detergent to razor burn to more serious infections. Here are some of the conditions that could be behind your itchy crotch—and what you can do to stop the scratching.

Fungal Infections

Fungal infections most likely develop a rash along with the itching, though its appearance varies depending on the type of fungus causing it. For instance, if a yeast infection is responsible, you may notice shiny, moist areas of skin on your penis, and possibly some white stuff in the skin folds, along with the red, itchy rash. 

Yeast is normally present in small amounts on your skin, but an overgrowth of it can cause an infection. This tends to occur in moist places that don’t get much light. So it usually shows up on the sides of your groin, between your genitals and thighs. 

Other fungal infections look a little different: They appear dry and flaky, and usually crop up on your thighs.

Quite common is tinea cruris, also known as jock itch. It affects the genitals, as well as the inner thighs and butt. Similarly, it is caused by increased moisture. To help prevent this and other types of fungal infections, avoid staying in wet clothes too long, such as after exercising. Try to avoid wearing any tightly fitting clothing if you’re planning on getting sweaty. Fungus thrives in the moist, warm environment.

Whatever the type of fungus responsible for your itching, a topical antifungal cream should bring relief. The cream attacks the fungal cells that cause the infection, while leaving your healthy skin cells unscathed.

Chafing

Chafing usually develops when you’re doing an activity that involves a lot of friction, like running. It often happens in the thigh area. The rubbing can disturb your skin barrier, causing tiny cracks and inflammation on your outer layers of skin. This causes a red, irritated rash that burns and itches. Your skin can also grow scaly.

If you are chafing, try to protect your irritated skin and prevent any additional rubbing. A moisturising cream will help repair the skin and soothe irritation. Additionally a zinc cream adds an extra protective barrier which protects your skin from future rubbing. Petroleum jelly also helps hydrate and restore your skin. Using an athletic supporter while working out can help prevent chafing.

Intertrigo

People with this skin condition develop a raw, red rash that itches and stings, usually in areas that contain lots of moisture from sweating. That moisture can spur an overgrowth of bacteria and fungus. This will appear in the groin, between stomach folds, in the armpits, or between the toes. Intertrigo can be treated by over the counter antibacterial and antifungal creams but if the rash persists for one to two weeks, see a dermatologist who will likely prescribe stronger versions of these medications to smooth over the irritation.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis occurs when skin comes in contact with something it’s allergic to, developing a super itchy, red rash that looks bumpy. It might even ooze a clear or yellowish fluid, which shows that the top layer of your skin has been disrupted. It is the likely cause if you notice that itchy rash and you’ve recently changed something in your routine. For example, a new laundry detergent or fabric softener, or you have bought new furniture with a new fabric just before you’ve developed the rash. You would usually start to notice a reaction hours or even a few days later. You’ll also probably experience itching on other body parts that were exposed to the allergen, too. Your itchy balls will likely bother you more though, since their thin skin is more sensitive to allergens.

Once you’ve identified the possible trigger, stop using the chemical or material you think may be responsible. If it’s clothing washed in a new detergent, rewash it a few times with your previous brand. If contact dermatitis was responsible, the reaction should disappear in about two weeks. If the rash persists see a doctor or dermatologist.

Pubic Lice or Crabs

Almost everyone has been inflicted with crabs at least once in their lives, often in adolescence. If you start to notice intense itching, irritation, and tiny specks in your pubic hair, you might have contracted a type of parasite called pubic lice, popularly known as crabs. You may see tiny white or yellowish specks near the roots of your pubic hair. Those are the lice eggs. You might also spot the lice themselves crawling—they’re tan or greyish-white, and resemble a mini crab. The presence of lice may not become apparent until 5 days to 3 weeks after the first contact. Itching and skin irritation are the main signs of an infestation and will occur in the pubic region, not when the insect bites but because the bite will trigger an allergic reaction to the louse saliva and faeces. The itching is usually worse at night.

Pubic lice pass from one person to another, usually as a result of sexual contact, but also through close hugging and kissing. More rarely, they can be passed on by sharing towels, clothing or bedding. They are considered the most contagious sexually transmitted infection. A person with lice has a high chance of passing on the lice to a sexual partner. Condoms do not prevent getting crabs. Even if you haven’t had sex recently, don’t rule out the possibility and still seek out proper treatment.

Crabs can be treated using over-the-counter preparations. Insecticidal creams, lotions, and shampoos are available without prescription at pharmacies.  Most treatments are applied once, and then again 7 days later, if lice are observed.

Anybody who has lice should avoid close physical contact with other people until the lice are gone. Anyone who has been in close contact with the person should receive treatment. This usually means sexual partners. Some lice have developed a resistance to some medications. If a medication does not work, first check that you have applied it correctly, then speak to a pharmacist or doctor about an alternative treatment.

Genital Herpes

For some guys, itching can be the first symptom of this sexually transmitted infection, which is caused by the herpes virus. The virus causes blisters in the genital or anal area. That itch will usually turn to burning, and within about a day, a blister or cluster of blisters can form. Then, the blisters can break, leading to painful sores. If you’ve experienced those symptoms in the past and they keep cropping back up, that might point to herpes, since the infection usually causes recurrent outbreaks. The virus is easily released from the blisters, which burst and become sores, but also from skin that appears not to have any blisters or sores. You should consult a doctor who will diagnose you, either by simply looking at the appearance of your blisters or by performing a blood test or culture of the lesion.

There is no cure for herpes, but the condition is treatable.  Antiviral medications can shorten the outbreak or prevent one from occurring. They also may reduce the chances of passing on the virus to your partner. If you do have herpes, condoms can also help prevent it from spreading to your partner. But a condom may not entirely cover your sores, and your partner can still be at risk of contracting herpes, especially during an outbreak.

Genital Warts/ HPV (Human Papilloma Virus)

Genital warts are a common symptom of the human papillomavirus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). Symptoms can take years to develop, making it harder to determine when you became infected. Genital warts are typically soft to the touch and skin coloured, and some may even resemble a cauliflower. You might notice just one, or they could crop up in a cluster.  But other than some itching, the warts are not usually painful, although they may cause discomfort, bleeding, itching or a bad smell. They can be embarrassing and might make you shy to have sex.

Genital warts can be treated with medications that contain ingredients which will stimulate your body’s immune system to clear up the warts. If these meds don’t work then liquid nitrogen can be applied to the growth which will freeze it off. In extreme cases they can be surgically removed. Even though you can get rid of the wart, you can’t eliminate the virus from your system. This mean that more warts could crop up down the road, and you can still spread it to others even if you don’t have a visible wart.

There is a vaccine available

While HPV has the potential to cause a variety of cancers, the types that form genital warts are different than the HPV that can lead to cancer.

If you have a persistent itch, don’t scratch…see a healthcare professional at any one of these clinics who specifically service men who have sex with men:

Cape Town 

Ivan Toms Centre for Men’s Health, 1 Portswood Rd, Green Point. 

Tel:  021 447 2844

Siseko Men’s Clinic, Site B Taxi rank, Khayelitsha, Tel: 021 388 5584

Johannesburg

Health4Men Yoeville Clinic, Kenmere Rd, Yoeville, Tel: 011 648 0212

Engage Men’s Health, 4th Ave, Melville.Tel:  010 500 0934.

Nelson Mandela Bay
Address: Minerva Mansions, 41 Bird St, Port Elizabeth. Tel: 010 534 8428

Buffalo City

Address: 72 Frere Rd, Vincent, East London, Tel: 010 534 8366