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What is Chancroid & How is it Treated | Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Prognosis of Chancroid

Chancroid is a sexually transmitted infection that causes painful open sores, also known as Chancroids, to develop in the genital area. More about the condition, its causes, symptoms, risk factors, diagnosis, treatment and prognosis are described in the following paragraphs of the article. What is Chancroid?

What is Chancroid?

Chancroid is an infection caused by bacteria and is a type of sexually transmitted disease that results in open sores on and around the genitals of both, women and men. Chancroid is rarely seen in the USA, however; it occurs very frequently in many of the developing nations. Individuals with chancroid must undergo with immediate medical treatment as soon as they start noticing the symptoms. In most cases chancroid can be treated with antibiotics.

Causes of Chancroid

As mentioned above, chancroid is caused by the bacterium Haemophilus ducreyi that attacks the genital area tissues and creates an open sore that is also referred to as a Chancroid or an Ulcer. This chancroid or ulcer may bleed or may produce a contagious fluid that might spread the bacterium during intercourse. Chancroid may also pass through skin to skin touch with an affected person. It is noted that most people diagnosed with Chancroid have been to countries where Chancroid infection is known to occur more frequently; although outbreaks have been observed in association with crack cocaine use and in case of sex workers or prostitution. Approximately 10% of individuals suffering from Chancroid are likely to have co-infection with human immunodeficiency virus or syphilis.

Symptoms of Chancroid

Chancroid symptoms may be different in women and men; however, they typically begin 4-7 days after exposure. Let us check out the chancroid symptoms, in Men and Women below.

Symptoms of Chancroid In Men:

In case of men who are infected with H.ducreyi bacterium, there may be a small red bump on their genitals that may change to an open sore in a couple of days. The ulcer may be formed on any portion of the genitals, which may include the scrotum and also the penis. These ulcers are mostly painful.

Symptoms of Chancroid In Women:

In women there may occur four or more red bumps on their labia, or between the anus and labia, or on the thighs. The labia are the folds of skin covering the genitals in females. Women may experience a burning or painful sensation while urinating or while passing bowel movements; after the bumps become ulcerated, or open.

Some Other Symptoms In Men And Women:

Below are some other symptoms that can occur both, in men and women who are suffering from Chancroid.

  • The ulcers can differ in size and they usually may range anywhere from 1/8 inch to 2 inches.
  • The ulcers may bleed easily if touched.
  • These ulcers contain a soft center that is either gray or is yellowish-gray, having sharp and defined edges.
  • During intercourse or while urinating, there may be severe pain.
  • Swelling may be experienced in the groin.
  • Swollen lymph nodes can also break through the skin, resulting in large abscesses that drain.

Risk Factors For Chancroid:

The first risk factor of developing the Chancroid is via direct contact with an open sore of an infected individual. Some other risk factors of developing chancroid may include; many sexual partners, unprotected sex or sexual contact, substance abuse, having sex with sex workers, rough and anal intercourse, being highly sexually active, residing in developing nations, like the Caribbean and Africa.

Diagnosis Of Chancroid:

Diagnosis of Chancroid may require taking samples of the fluid draining from the open sores. These fluid samples are then sent to the lab. Diagnosing chancroid at present is not possible by testing blood samples. Your doctor may also examine the groin, especially the lymph nodes present in your groin, and check for any pain and swelling.

Treatment Of Chancroid:

Chancroid may mostly be treated successfully with antibiotics or surgery.

Antibiotic Therapy for Chancroid:

You will be prescribed with antibiotics by your doctor for clearing the Chancroid infection. As per The CDC or The Centers For Disease Control And Prevention, at least any of the following antibiotics is recommended so as to treat Chancroid.

  • Azithromycin: 1 gm to be taken once every day.
  • Ceftriaxone: 250 mg IM or intramuscular, to be taken once every day.
  • Erythromycin base: 500 Mg to be taken orally, thrice daily for a week.
  • Ciprofloxacin: 500 mg to be taken orally, twice daily for 3 days.

It is required to take the prescribed medicines. Chronic or Chancroid infections that are left untreated are very much difficult for treating as in such cases the bacteria causing the infection can be spread in other parts of the body. It is to be noted that after prescribing antibiotic therapy for chancroid, your doctor will check for the chancroid symptoms for 3-7 days. If symptoms still remain, the doctor might again perform or evaluate the diagnosis, make sure if you are properly taking the medicines, test for several other STIs (such as HIV), find out if the Haemophillus ducreyl strain is resistant to the prescribed antibiotic. Recovery time for Chancroid primarily depends on infection’s severity and the sores size. Large ulcers formed from chancroids might take up to 14 days or more to completely heal.

Surgical Treatment for Chancroid:

With the help of a needle or through the surgery, your doctor may try and drain a painful and a large abscess present in your lymph node. This in turn would reduce any pain and swelling, as the sore continues to heal. However, it might result in light scarring at the affected site.

Long Term Effects Of Chancroid:

In treated on time chancroid is curable. If all medications and antibiotics are taken properly as prescribed by your doctor then the chancroid sores may heal without any noticeable scarring. However untreated chancroid conditions may result in permanent scarring in men on their genitals and also may result in several serious infections and other complications in women. Moreover, if you are diagnosed with Chancroid, you may also develop all other STDs, and thus you should be tested for them as well. In addition, people who are HIV positive that contract chancroid, generally heals more slowly.

Prognosis For Chancroid:

Prognosis for Chancroid is an expected full recovery with antibiotic treatment; although lesions spontaneously resolve without any treatment as previously noted. Lack of treatment or delayed treatments for Chancroid puts the patient at risk of developing suppurative lymphadenitis.

Prevention Against Chancroid:

Chancroid can be prevented by using condoms and other protective ways during sexual contact. Apart from this below are some preventive measures that can be followed so as to safeguard self from getting encountered by chancroid.

  • Limit the number of people you have sex with.
  • Practice safe sex or use protection during intercourse or sexual contact.
  • Check the genital region for signs and symptoms of any sort of abnormal sores, bumps, or swollen lymph nodes, on a regular basis.
  • Talk with sexual partner to test for STIs or know about their STI status before getting involved with sexual activity.
  • Talk with your medical professional about any unexplained pain in the groin.
  • Get frequent STI testing in Manchester
  • Avoid or limit alcohol and also avoid the use of recreational drug, as these substances may impair judgment in making healthy choices.


We described above that the prescribed antibiotics can be used to treat Chancroid in several cases. However, it must be strictly noted that if this condition is left untreated, it can develop into a more severe infection that would be pretty difficult to treat. So, make sure you consult with your doctor on an immediate basis, after signs and symptoms of chancroid develop.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 1, 2024

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