What causes groin rashes?

You may develop a groin rash as a result of a variety of infections, inflammatory conditions, allergic reactions, contact dermatitis, and skin conditions.

Infectious causes of groin rashes

Groin rashes may be caused by infections or infestations including:

  • Childhood diseases, such as chickenpox, fifth disease, measles, roseola, and rubella
  • Erythrasma (bacterial infection found in skin folds)
  • HIV
  • Molluscum contagiosum (viral infection of the skin)
  • Phthirus pubis (pubic lice)
  • Scabies
  • Shingles (herpes zoster)
  • Syphilis
  • Tinea cruris (jock itch)

Other causes of groin rashes

Groin rashes can also be caused by other conditions including:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Eczema
  • Erythema nodosum (inflammatory condition characterized by red nodules on the skin)
  • Folliculitis (irritation and ingrown hairs following pubic hair shaving)
  • Intertrigo (inflammation of skin folds)
  • Kawasaki disease (condition that causes blood vessel inflammation in children)
  • Psoriasis
  • Seborrheic dermatitis

Serious or life-threatening causes of groin rashes

Although this is uncommon, you can develop a groin rash that is a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. These conditions include:

  • Fournier’s gangrene (severe spreading infection of the groin with tissue death)
  • Meningococcal meningitis (infection or inflammation of the sac around the brain and spinal cord)
  • Severe cases of childhood diseases, such as chickenpox, fifth disease, measles, roseola, and rubella

Questions for diagnosing the cause of groin rash

To diagnose your condition, your health care professional will ask you several questions related to your groin rash including:

  • When did you first notice your groin rash?
  • Do you have other symptoms such as itching or pain at the site of the groin rash?
  • Do you have rashes on other parts of your body?
  • Do you have any other symptoms?
  • Have you been exposed recently to anyone with similar symptoms?
  • Are your immunizations up to date?

What are the potential complications of groin rash?

Because your groin rash may be a symptom of a serious underlying disease, failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:

  • Coexistence of other sexually transmitted infections
  • Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC, a clotting disorder leading to the formation of multiple blood clots in the bloodstream)
  • Late or latent syphilis (complications of untreated syphilis include heart disease, neurologic disease, liver disease, and damage to the joints and bones)
  • Progression to AIDS
  • Secondary skin infection (infection that develops on top of the current condition, often due to scratching)
  • Spread of disease to a close contact or sexual partner
  • Susceptibility to additional sexually transmitted infections
  • Tissue scarring and skin disfigurement


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  4. Bope ET, Kellerman RD (Eds.) Conn’s Current Therapy.Philadelphia: Saunders, 2013.

What is groin rash?

Rashes are changes in the skin that can involve bumps, color changes, itching, discomfort, and skin sores. Rashes that affect the groin may be limited to the groin or may involve other areas of the body. So-called childhood diseases, such as chickenpox, fifth disease, measles, roseola, and rubella, can cause generalized rashes that may spread to the groin, as can meningococcal meningitis (infec... Read more about groin rashintroduction


What other symptoms might occur with a groin rash?

Groin rashes may accompany other symptoms, which will vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the skin of the groin may also involve other body systems.

Infection symptoms that may occur along with a groin rash

Groin rashes may accompany other symptoms of infection including:

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 23, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Infections and Contagious Diseases

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