Written on August 23, 2023 by Lori Mulligan, MPH. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Chancroid is a highly contagious yet curable sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the bacteria Haemophilus ducreyi.
Chancroid causes ulcers, usually of the genitals. Swollen, painful lymph glands, or inguinal buboes, in the groin area are often associated with chancroid. Left untreated, chancroid may facilitate the transmission of HIV. This article will cover chancroid: why you need to know about it and how to treat it.
Chancroid is transmitted in two ways:
A person is considered to be infectious when ulcers are present. There has been no reported disease in infants born to women with active chancroid at the time of delivery.
The prevalence of chancroid has declined in the United States. When infection does occur, it is usually associated with sporadic outbreaks. Worldwide, chancroid appears to have declined as well, although infection might still occur in some regions of Africa and the Caribbean. Chancroid, as well as genital herpes and syphilis, is a risk factor in the transmission of HIV infection.
Chancroid has been well established as a cofactor for HIV transmission. Moreover, persons with HIV may experience slower healing of chancroid, even with treatment, and may need to take medications for a longer period of time. Complications from chancroid include:
Here are some chancroid symptoms to look out for :
It’s somewhat difficult to diagnose chancroid. Scientists can use a test with specialized media to find H. ducreyi, but the media isn’t widely available, and the test isn’t 100% accurate.
Also, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved any polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for chancroid. This type of test finds genetic material from an organism like a virus if you have the virus at the time of the test or fragments even after you’re no longer infected.
Your healthcare provider will want to rule out syphilis, herpes, or lymphogranuloma venereum.
Because of the difficulties with testing, your healthcare provider will diagnose chancroid if:
Your healthcare provider will give you antibiotics to treat chancroid, prescribing one of the following:
You should be feeling better after one to two weeks. Your soft chancres should also start to clear up. If the case was very bad, you might have scars where the ulcers were.
If treatment isn’t successful, your healthcare provider will order additional tests. There’s a chance the diagnosis was wrong or that there’s another viral infection involved.
Another thing to consider is that genital ulcer disease, including chancroid, can make it easier to transmit human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
There are some things you can do to reduce your risk of developing chancroid, including :
To discuss questions and possible medications for STD treatment with a healthcare provider, consider the Everlywell telehealth option for STD treatment online.