Sex Talk

My groin & thighs are dry, itchy & red. What could it be?

Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng answers your sex questions

27 August 2017 - 00:00 By Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng
A dry, itchy groin can be caused by a number of things, including eczema or a fungal infection.
A dry, itchy groin can be caused by a number of things, including eczema or a fungal infection.
Image: iStock

Q. My groin, thighs and legs are often itchy, dry and sometimes red. This makes me self-conscious about being naked during sex. What could it be?

A. Dermatitis is a skin condition caused by inflammation of the skin. The most common form of it is eczema, which can appear on any part of the body, although the most common areas are the face, neck, wrist, elbow, groin, knees and ankles.

It causes the skin to become itchy, red, and dry - or even cracked and leathery. Fungal infection can also result in eczema-like changes to the skin, and chronic scratching can lead to secondary bacterial infection.

There are many types of eczema, the most common being atopic eczema. Eczema runs in families, meaning there are certain genes that make skin more sensitive and result in an overactive immune system. There may also be some defects in the skin's ability to defend itself from germs. There are trigger factors as well as aggravating factors, and these differ widely with each person.

Eczema triggers include:

• Stress;

• Contact with irritating substances such as woollen and synthetic fabrics and soap;

• Heat and sweat; and

• Dry skin.

It is best to see your doctor if you have a chronic skin inflammation. You may require allergy tests - skin scrapings to confirm fungal infection.

Treatments for dermatitis may include:

• Over-the-counter creams or ointments, which may help mild eczema;

• Oral antihistamines, which may help relieve symptoms such as itching; and

• Oral corticosteroids, antifungals or antibiotics, prescribed by your doctor.

• Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng (MBChB), sexual and reproductive health practice, DISA Clinic, 011-886-2286, visit safersex.co.za.

Do you have a question about sex?

E-mail your questions to lifestyle@sundaytimes.co.za with SEX TALK as the subject. Anonymity assured.