Chancroid

What is chancroid?

Chancroid is a little-known STD (sexually transmitted disease). It is found all over the world, but is most prevalent in the Third World and developing countries. It is characterised by the development of ulcers or chancres on the genital areas, and is therefore sometimes known as "soft chancre". Chancroid is caused by the bacteria Haemophilus ducreyi.

How is chancroid transmitted?

Chancroid can be sexually transmitted if there is skin-to-skin contact with open sores.

Non-sexual transmission is also possible if a person comes into contact with the pus-like fluid which comes from the ulcer.

What are the symptoms of chancroid?

  • Within three to ten days, one or more ulcers will appear on the genitals.
  • These ulcers begin as tender bumps, but within a day they become painful, open sores. These sores are full of pus and have ragged edges.
  • Some people may experience painful lymph glands in the groin.
  • Chancroid tends to be more painful in men.
  • Chancroid in women can be asymptomatic (show no symptoms), and therefore they may be unaware that they have contracted the disease. Others may not experience sores, but may develop symptoms such as vaginal discharge or rectal bleeding.

How is chancroid treated?

Chancroid is treated with antibiotics. If treatment is successful, the ulcers usually begin to improve within a week. The larger the ulcer, the longer it will take to heal.

Can chancroid recur?

Yes. You can get chancroid again if you have sex with an infected partner.

How can I prevent getting chancroid?

You can avoid getting chancroid if you only have sex with one, uninfected partner. If you are not in a monogamous relationship, always use a condom for vaginal and anal sex. Remember however, a condom may protect the penis, vagina, and anus, but it can't protect other areas such as the scrotum. Therefore if you notice anything unusual in your partner’s genital area, abstain from sex until it has been checked out.

If I have chancroid, how long am I infectious?

A person remains infectious as long as there are ulcers present. Therefore it is essential that you do not take part in any sexual activity until the ulcers are completely cured. Otherwise you may spread it to your partner(s).

Back to top of page

Back to Homepage