What is Chancroid?

Chancroid is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the haemophilus ducreyi bacterium. Early signs of chancroid may be mistaken for syphilis, yet the sores will grow to a larger size and will be more painful. Although highly contagious, chancroid is easily treated.

How common is Chancroid?

Any sexually active person can be infected with chancroid. Although less common the UK, it is a lot more common in Asia and Africa. The World Health Organisation has calculated that more than 9 million people are infected annually. Chancroid is more commonly seen in men than women, especially in uncircumcised males.

How is Chancroid passed on?

Chancroid can be passed on through direct skin contact with open sores during sex or through non-sexual transmission when fluid from an ulcer touches another person. If ulcers are present, a person is considered to be infectious. Sexual contact should be avoided during this time.

What are the complications of Chancroid?

In people with HIV, chancroid can take longer to heal. If you have been diagnosed with chancroid, it is recommended that you are also tested for HIV, genital herpes and syphilis as chancroid may facilitate the transmission of these infections. In uncircumcised males, chancroid can cause scars on the foreskin of the penis.

With chancroid, the first sign of infection is one or more sores or raised bumps on the genital area. The sores are surrounded by a pus-filled border, which eventually breaks, leaving a soft, painful open sore.

Symptoms of chancroid in men:

In men, the sores caused by chancroid may appear on:

  • Foreskin
  • Head of the penis
  • Rectum
  • Scrotum

Symptoms of chancroid in women:

In women, the sores caused by chancroid may appear on:

  • Labia
  • Rectum
  • Perineal area
  • Inner thighs

Women may also experience pain during sex or urination. Some people, both men and women, may develop swollen lymph nodes which are located between the leg and the lower abdomen.

How long does it take for symptoms of chancroid to appear?

Once a person has been infected with chancroid, symptoms usually appear 4 to 10 days later with the development of sores.

What happens if chancroid is left untreated?

If chancroid is not treated it can cause damage to skin and genitals. As soon as you notice any sores, you should seek advice and get tested.

Can I be cured of chancroid?

Chancroid can be easily treated with antibiotics.

How often do you need to test for chancroid?

All sexually active individuals are at risk of chancroid. If you have had unprotected sexual contact with an infected person, you should be tested. A comprehensive STI screen is recommended once a year or with every change of sexual partner.

Who is at risk of chancroid?

Any sexually active person can get chancroid, irrespective of gender or age. However, chancroid is more commonly seen in men than women, although this does not mean than women are not at risk. In order to reduce your risk of chancroid, practice safe sex by using a condom every time you have sex. However, a condom will only be effective as long as the infected area is covered. If there is an open sore elsewhere, chancroid can be passed on. The risk increases with the number of changes in sexual partner also.

Where can I get a test for chancroid?

At Yourhealthfirst Clinic tests for 10 STIs at the same time, including chancroid

How reliable is the chancroid test?

Chancroid is included as one of the ten STIs that YHF Clinic tests for simultaneously. Confidante is a cutting-edge testing procedure that uses molecular diagnostics that far exceed other STI tests currently available. The test screens for multiple STI pathogens to identify specific viral, protozoan or bacterial pathogens.

How is chancroid treated?

Chancroid can be easily treated with antibiotics. If large nymph nodes develop, these need to be drained. If your results are positive, contact your GP for treatment.