Chancroid is a bacterial infection that is spread only through sexual contact.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Chancroid is caused by a type of bacteria called Haemophilus ducreyi.
The infection is found mainly in developing and third world countries. Very few people are diagnosed in the United States each year with this infection. Most people in the U.S. who are diagnosed with chancroid have traveled outside the country to areas where the infection is more common.
Within 1 day – 2 weeks after getting chancroid, a person will get a small bump in the genitals. The bump becomes an
- Ranges in size from 1/8 inch to 2 inches across
- Is painful
- Is soft
- Has sharply defined borders
- Has a base that is covered with a grey or yellowish-grey material
- Has a base that bleeds easily if it is banged or scraped
About half of infected men have only a single ulcer. Women often have four or more ulcers. The ulcers appear in specific locations.
Common locations in men are:
- Groove behind the head of the penis
- Shaft of the penis
- Head of the penis
- Opening of the penis
In women the most common location for ulcers is the outer lips of the vagina (labia majora). “Kissing ulcers” may develop. These are ulcers that occur on opposite surfaces of the labia.
Other areas, such as the inner vagina lips (labia minora), the area between the genitals and the anus (perineal area), and the inner thighs may also be involved. The most common symptoms in women are pain with urination and intercourse.
The ulcer may look like a chancre, the typical sore of
About half of the people who are infected with a chancroid will develop enlarged inguinal lymph nodes, the nodes located in the fold between the leg and the lower abdomen.
In half of people who have swelling of the inguinal lymph nodes, the nodes will break through the skin and cause draining
Signs and tests
Chancroid is diagnosed by looking at the ulcer(s) and checking for swollen lymph nodes. There are no blood tests for chancroid.
The infection is treated with antibiotics, including azithromycin, ceftriaxone, ciprofloxacin, and erythromycin. Large lymph node swellings need to be drained, either with a needle or local surgery.
Chancroid can get better on its own. However, some people may have months of painful ulcers and draining. Antibiotic treatment usually clears up the lesions quickly with very little scarring.
Complications include urethral fistulas and scars on the foreskin of the
Chancroids in persons with HIV may take much longer to heal.
Calling your health care provider
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if:
You have symptoms of chancroid
You have had sexual contact with a person who you know has a sexually transmitted infection (STI)
You have engaged in high-risk sexual practices
Chancroid is a bacterial infection that is spread by sexual contact with an infected person. Avoiding all forms of sexual activity is the only absolute way to prevent a sexually transmitted disease.
However, safe sex behaviors may reduce your risk. The proper use of condoms, either the male or female type, greatly decreases the risk of catching a sexually transmitted disease. You need to wear the condom from the beginning to the end of each sexual activity.