Chancroid is a sexually transmitted infection that occurs in the genital area causing painful open sores, or chancroids. The lymph nodes in the groin can also often swell and become painful.
Chancroid is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the Haemophilus ducreyi bacteria. North America and Europe rarely do.
Having chancroid also increases the risk of developing other STIs, as the sores damage the skin barrier and the immune system.
People with chancroid will seek medical treatment as soon as symptoms become evident. Anyone diagnosed with or suspected of having chancroid should also notify recent sexual partners so that they can be checked as quickly as possible.
In most cases antibiotics can treat chancroid.
What are the symptoms of chancroid?
Most people with chancroid begin to notice symptoms within 3 to 10 days of the infection.
Some individuals have no visible Chancroid symptoms.
The most common symptoms of chancroid in the genital region are tender, red-colored bumps, which become ulcerated, open sores.
The ulcer base can appear grey or yellow.
Chancroid sores are often very painful in men but in women, they are less noticeable and painful.
Additional Chancroid related symptoms include:
Additional symptoms associated with chancroid include:
- urethritis, or inflammation of the urethra
- abnormal vaginal discharge
- pain and bleeding of the sore
- dysuria, a condition caused by urethral inflammation
A doctor must recognise the presence of H to make a definitive diagnosis of chancroid. Ducreyi in ulcer-bearing fluids.
A definite diagnosis, however, is not always possible, as some of the substances needed to identify the bacteria are not widely available in the USA. In any case, less than 80 percent of the time these tests are reliable.
A doctor will ask a person questions about his / her symptoms, sexual history, and travel history to diagnose chancroid. Typically, if a person’s symptoms match standard chancroid symptoms, a doctor may make a chancroid diagnosis, and they test negative for other STIs.
The number one risk factor for contracting chancroid is through touch with an person who has chancroid’s open sores.
Additional risk factors for contracting chancroid include:
- unprotected sexual contact or intercourse
- multiple sexual partners
- sexual contact or intercourse with a sex worker
- substance abuse
- rough intercourse
- anal intercourse
- being sexually active
- living in some developing nations, such as parts of Africa and the Caribbean
How is it treated?
Usually, a doctor would prescribe antibiotics to clean off the infection.
One round of antibiotic therapy to treat chancroid is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- azithromycin: 1 gram (g) orally once daily
- ceftriaxone: 250 mg intramuscular (IM) once daily
- ciprofloxacin: 500 mg orally twice daily for 3 days
- erythromycin base: 500 mg orally three times a day for 7 days
It is necessary to take all medicines prescribed by a doctor. Chronic or untreated chancroid infections are harder to treat because the bacteria may spread to other body areas.
After administering antibiotic therapy a doctor will monitor chancroid symptoms for 3 to 7 days. If there are any symptoms left, a doctor could:
- reassess their diagnosis
- ensure a person is taking their medications properly
- test for other STIs, including HIV
- explore whether the strain of H. ducreyi is resistant to the antibiotic prescribed
Chancroid recovery time also depends on the severity of the infection and the extent of sores. Large chancroid ulcers can take more than two weeks to fully heal.
The only sure way to avoid chancroid is to avoid both intercourse and touch. However, for the majority of people total celibacy is not a realistic lifestyle choice.
Other methods of reducing the risk of chancroid development include:
- limiting or reducing the number of sexual partners
- using protection during sexual contact or intercourse at all times
- regularly checking the genital region for signs of abnormal bumps, sores, or swollen lymph nodes
- talking with sexual partners about testing for STIs or their STI status before engaging in sexual contact
- asking sexual partners about any unusual sores or bumps in their genital region
- talking with a doctor about unexplained groin pain
- getting regular STI testing
- avoiding or limiting alcohol use and avoiding recreational drug use as these may impair judgment in making healthy choices
In many cases basic antibiotics can be used to treat chancroid.
If left untreated, chancroid can grow into a more severe, hard to treat infection.
Talk to a doctor or health care provider as soon as possible after getting chancroid symptoms.