Irritation in the groin is painful and annoying. It can be caused by many different things, including:
- getting sand in your swimming costumes or board shorts
- a build-up of sweat after exercise
- excess rubbing to the area such as through exercise or sex
- lubricants and spermicides
- latex products, such as condoms
- soaps, shower gels, shampoos, deodorants or hygiene sprays
- disinfectants, antiseptics and ointments
- washing powders or liquids
- new underwear, especially if it is not made from cotton
Irritation can also be due to:
- skin conditions such as eczema (dermatitis) or psoriasis
- infestations such as scabies or pubic lice
You can ease some of the irritation by using a cool compress or an ice pack — ice packs should never be placed directly on the skin, but should be wrapped in something soft like a tea towel.
If you have broken skin or sores, don’t put on any cream or lotion until you have checked with your doctor.
If you are in pain, get advice on medicines you can take. A pharmacist can advise on soothing creams and lotions.
Don’t use any cream or lotion you already have at home until you have discussed your problem with a doctor or pharmacist.
Groin infections can be caused by a fungus (known as tinea or ‘jock itch’), by sexually transmitted infections like herpes, or by other types of infections.
Some skin infections will clear up by themselves if you keep the area clean and dry. But if you have a groin infection that you have not had before, it would be wise to see a doctor or go to a sexual health clinic.
A mild case should clear up quickly with an over the counter ointment from a pharmacy. However, if it is hard to treat you may need a prescription medicine.
If you have a sexually transmitted infection, you may need antibiotics or other medicine. If you have been told you have a sexually transmitted infection, tell any sexual partner so they can also be examined and treated as necessary. Avoid sexual contact until your doctor says it is OK.
Other causes of groin irritation such as pubic and body lice or scabies need to be treated with medicated creams or washes. Talk to your doctor.
If the cause of the irritation is an allergy, antihistamines can help but you will need to try to avoid the trigger in future. You can ease some of the discomfort of an infection by keeping the area clean and dry.
Clean the area in lukewarm water at least twice a day. Dry carefully and then apply any cream you have been given by your doctor or pharmacist according to their instructions. Wash your hands before and after cleaning.
Do not share towels.
If you are in pain, get advice on pain relief medicines you can take.
Not sure what to do next?
If you are still concerned about your groin irritation and infection, check your symptoms with healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.
The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).
Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.
Last reviewed: November 2019