Chancroid is a highly contagious sexually transmitted disease (STD). This is dangerous because once you have it, it can increase your risk for other health conditions. What exactly is chancroid, and how can you treat and prevent it?
Chancroid is an STD caused by a bacteria called Haemophilus ducreyi. This causes bumps that may feel tender to your touch. The nodules fill with pus and may open and become sores. These sores are often on the genitals and are called ulcers. Although chancroid is easily treatable, it spreads very easily.
Another common symptom of chancroid is swelling of the lymph nodes or small glands in your groin. When your lymph nodes are swollen, it’s a sign that your body is fighting bacteria or infection.
Chancroid is not a common STD in the United States and occurs mostly in Africa and the Caribbean, where it causes sporadic outbreaks.
Chancroid is transmitted from person to person in two ways. The first is sexual contact with a person who has open sores. Another is when pus-like fluid from wounds is transferred from person to person through other physical contact. If you have canker sores, touch one of them, and then touch another person, you can pass the infection on to them.
Who can get chancroid?
A person will experience symptoms of chancreosis within four to ten days of being exposed to the bacteria.
Who can get chancroid? Anyone can get chancroid by coming into contact with the bacteria that cause it. However, men are more likely to be diagnosed with chancroid than women.
Women who have chancroid are often asymptomatic (meaning they have no symptoms) or may have sores inside the vagina. Their only visible symptom may be swollen lymph nodes, which they may not notice if they have no other symptoms or medical problems.
Symptoms of Chancroid
Painful ulcers. The most common symptom of chancroid is painful open sores. Chancroid sores can go away quickly, but they can last for weeks or months.
Swollen lymph nodes. In some cases, chancroid also causes swollen, painful lymph nodes around the groin.
Diagnosing and Treating Chancroid
Diagnosis of Chancrod. Symptoms of chancroid are often similar to those of other STDs. To diagnose chancroid, your doctor will take a swab of your ulcer and send it to a lab to see if the Haemophilus doceri bacteria is present.
Possibility of reinfection. Having chancroid once does not make you immune to the bacteria. You may get re-infection after your sores have healed and gone.
Treatment of chancroid. Your doctor will treat your chancre with antibiotics. With proper care and treatment, you can expect your wounds to heal within two weeks.
While you are recovering, you should follow these guidelines to make sure you recover properly:
- Do not have sex until your sores are completely healed.
- Keep the area around your wound clean and dry
- Don’t wear tight-fitting clothes that can irritate your wounds.
Prevention. The best way to avoid getting chancroid is to avoid having sex. However, if you are sexually active, you can take these steps to reduce your chance of getting chancroid:
- Limit your number of sexual partners.
- Do not have sex with someone who has open sores on their genitals or back.
- Always use a condom during sex to reduce your chance of getting chancroid and other STDs.
If you think you may have chancroid, don’t have sex with a partner until you talk to a doctor. Go to urgent care, an STD clinic, or a hospital. A doctor will talk to you about your symptoms, examine the affected area, and take a swab to send a sample for testing.
If you find out you have concord, tell all your sexual partners so they can get treatment too. Do not have sex until you have finished your medication and all of your sores have completely healed. Your doctor may schedule you for a follow-up appointment to make sure your ulcers have healed and you don’t need further treatment.
Ineffective treatment. Men who have not been circumcised and those living with HIV may not respond to the usual chancroid treatments. If you’re in one of these high-risk categories, talk to your doctor about other steps you can take to help your ulcers heal.
Other health conditions The open sores that cause chancroid make you more susceptible to other bacteria. The biggest risk of chancroid is that you are more likely to get HIV when you are infected with chancroid.