Itch balls can be a bummer. But scratching only makes the situation worse. In order to soothe that sensitive skin, you need to figure out what is behind the itching in the first place.
There are a number of causes, says dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital. Some of these may be innocent – say, a new laundry detergent – but others, such as infections, can be more serious.
Here, your cheat sheet in 7 conditions you could be behind your itchy-knee train and what you can do to stop the scratch, stat.
Crotch with itch Cause: Fungal infections
How Do You Know You Have It: You will probably develop a rash along with the itching, although its appearance varies depending on the type of fungus that causes it. For example, if a yeast infection is responsible, you may notice the moist, shiny areas of the skin on your penis, and possibly some white matter in the folds of the skin, along with the red, itchy rash, according to the clinic of May.
Yeast is usually present in small amounts in your skin, but excessive growth of it can cause an infection. This tends to occur in humid places that do not receive much light, says Jason Reichenberg, MD, director of dermatology at the University of Texas at Austin. So it usually appears on the sides of the groin, between the genitals and thighs.
Other fungal infections look a little different: They look dry and scaly, and usually arise on the thighs, Dr. Reichenberg says.
How to treat it: Whatever the type of fungus responsible for itching, an antifungal cream like Lotrimin AF should do the trick. The cream attacks the fungal cells that cause the infection, while leaving healthy skin cells undamaged.
Pat the dry region before rubbing into the cream. That will help get rid of moisture, preventing the fungus from growing and allowing the cream to work better, says Dr. Reichenberg.
Crotch with itch Cause: Chafing
How Do You Know You Have It: Rubbing occurs when your skin rubs together your skin. It usually develops when you are doing an activity involving a lot of friction, like running.
Rubbing can alter your skin barrier, causing small cracks and inflammation in the outer layers of the skin. This causes a red, irritated rash that burns and itch. Your skin can also grow flaky, too, says Dr. Zeichner.
How to treat it: Your goal is to protect your skin irritated and avoid any additional rubbing. A moisturizing cream like Aveeno Skin Relief Moisturizing Cream will help repair the skin. It also contains colloidal oatmeal, which works to calm irritation, says Dr. Zeichner.
Pair that with a zinc cream, like Destin, which protects your skin from future rubbing by adding a protective barrier. And then use an oil-containing cream, such as CeraVe Healing Ointment, which helps moisturize and restore your skin.
Crotch with itch Cause: Intertrigo
As you know you have it: You will develop a raw red itchy and itchy rash, usually in areas that contain a lot of moisture from sweating, Dr. Zeichner says-like, like your groin, between the folds of your stomach, Under your arms, or between your toes, according to the Mayo Clinic. That moisture can stimulate an overgrowth of bacteria and fungi.
How to treat it: Antibacterial creams like Neosporin and antifungal creams, such as Lotrimin, can take care of bacteria and fungi. And a zinc cream, like Destin, protects your skin from further rubbing.
If the rash persists for a week or two, contact your dermatologist. It is likely to prescribe stronger versions of these medications to ease irritation, says Zeichner.
Crotch with itching Cause: Contact dermatitis
How do you know you have it: Contact dermatitis occurs when your skin comes into contact with something to which you are allergic. It is likely to develop a super-spicy, red rash that looks uneven. Even clear or yellowish fluid can be exuded, which shows that the upper layer of the skin has been disrupted, Dr. Reichenberg says.
Contact dermatitis is likely to cause you to notice that the rash with itching and has recently changed something in your routine, for example, tried a new laundry detergent or fabric softener, or even bought a new sofa made from a Different material-just before you noticed it, says Dr. Reichenberg. Usually you will begin to notice a reaction hours or even a few days later.
You will also likely experience itching in other parts of the body that were exposed to the allergen, too, he says. Your itching balls will probably annoy you more, although your fine skin is more sensitive to allergens.
How to treat it: Stop using the chemical or material that you think may be responsible. If it is laundry washed with a new detergent, re-wash it several times with your previous brand, says Dr. Reichenberg.
If contact dermatitis was responsible, the reaction should disappear in about two weeks.
Crotch itching Cause: Pubic lice
How Do You Know You Have It: If you begin to notice intense itching, irritation, and tiny specks on your pubic hair, you may have contracted a type of parasite called pubic lice, also known as crabs.
You may see small white or yellowish spots near the roots of your pubic hair. Those are lice eggs, says Dennis Fortenberry, M.D., a professor of adolescent medicine at Indiana University. You can also spot lice that are crawling: they are tanned or greyish, and if you are brave enough to look through a magnifying glass, it would resemble a mini crab, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
How to Treat It: Go to your doctor-he or she will confirm that your problem is really lice and will send it home with a shampoo or lotion containing permethrin or pyrethrins with piperonyl butoxide, which will kill the lice that Dr. Fortenberry says.
Crotch with itch Cause: Herpes
How Do You Know You Have It: For some guys, itching may be the first symptom of this sexually transmitted infection (STD), which is caused by the herpes virus, says Dr. Fortenberry. That the itching usually turns into burning, and in about a day, a blister or cluster of blisters can form. The blisters can then rupture, resulting in painful sores.
If you have experienced those symptoms in the past and are still reaping, you could target herpes, since the infection usually causes recurrent outbreaks.
How to treat it: This is another case where you will go to your doctor. He or she will diagnose you, either by simply looking at the appearance of your blisters or performing a blood test or lesion culture, reports the CDC.
There is no cure for herpes, but your doctor may provide some treatment. Antiviral drugs, such as Zovirax, Valtrex or Famvir, may shorten the outbreak or prevent one from occurring. They can also reduce the chances of transmitting the virus to your partner.
Crotch Itchy Cause: Genital Warts
How do you know you have it? Genital warts are a common symptom of the human papillomavirus (HPV) of STI. They are usually soft to the touch and the skin colored, and some may even resemble a cauliflower. You may notice only one, or they could arise in a group, says Dr. Fortenberry. But apart from some itching, the warts do not feel like something.
How to treat it: If you think you have genital warts, check with your doctor, says Dr. Fortenberry. You may prescribe a medication containing Imiquimod, Podofilox or Sinecatechins, which will stimulate your body’s immune system to clear up the warts.
Or, you can apply liquid nitrogen to the growth, which will freeze it.
However, even though you can get rid of the wart, you can not remove the virus from your system – which means that more warts could arise along the way, and can still be spread to others if you do not have a visible wart.