Chancroid is an STD that is spread from one person to another through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. About 3 to 10 days after exposure, a newly infected person will develop a tender, red bump on the genitals. This bump, known as a bubo, will evolve into a painful ulcer over the next 2 days. Over half the people with chancroid have more than one ulcer.
What are the causes and risks of the infection?Chancroid is a sexually transmitted disease. Risky sexual behaviors, such as having more than one partner, increase the risk for chancroid. For some reason, men are more commonly infected with chancroid than women are. Individuals with immunodeficiency disorders, such as HIV, are at higher risk for chancroid. The risk is also higher in people who are receiving chemotherapy for cancer.
Symptoms & Signs
What are the signs and symptoms of the infection?
Symptoms of chancroid may include:
dyspareunia, or pain with intercourse
painful bowel movements
painful ulcers, which may drain pus
swollen lymph nodes
Diagnosis & Tests
How is the infection diagnosed?
Diagnosis of chancroid begins with a medical history and physical exam. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) gives three criteria for a diagnosis of chancroid.
The person has one or more painful ulcers, which may be associated with swollen lymph nodes.
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The person’s symptoms are not typical of genital herpes, or a culture for the herpes virus is negative.
The Haemophilus ducreyi bacteria that cause chancroid can only be grown on a special culture medium. That medium is not always available, and the test is only 80% sensitive for the bacteria.
Prevention & Expectations
What can be done to prevent the infection?
Safer sex methods can help prevent chancroid. Male condoms or female condoms can help prevent transmission of STDs. Some male condoms are made with the spermicide nonoxynol 9. This product helps kill some organisms that cause STDs. Anyone diagnosed with chancroid should encourage his or her sexual partners to be screened and treated.
What are the long-term effects of the infection?
Chancroid rarely causes long-term effects, such as tightening of the foreskin on a man’s penis. Occasionally, there may be permanent scarring at the site of an ulcer.
What are the risks to others?
Chancroid is a sexually transmitted disease. It can be spread through vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse even before an ulcer is noticed.
Treatment & Monitoring
What are the treatments for the infection?
Antibiotics are used to treat chancroid. These include azithromycin, ceftriaxone, erythromycin, and ciprofloxacin.
What are the side effects of the treatments?
Antibiotics may cause stomach upset, rash, or allergic reactions.
What happens after treatment for the infection?
Improvement occurs within days of starting treatment. It is usually complete after 2 weeks. Relapse sometimes occurs but will usually respond to a second course of antibiotics. People with chancroid also should be tested for other STDs and treated as needed.
How is the infection monitored?
Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.