A sexually transmitted infection, Chancroid is a bacterial infection spread by bacterium Haemophilus ducreyi. The bacteria attack the tissue on the external reproductive organ and produce an open sore. In severe cases, blood or a contagious fluid may ooze out of the bump that turns into an ulcer quickly and risks spreading bacteria during intercourse, whether anal, oral, or vaginal. The infection may be transmitted even from skin-to-skin contact.
The symptoms may start to appear usually 4-10 days after infection. The sore quickly turns into an ulcer, which may be between 1/8 and 2 inches in diameter. The soft, painful ulcer is noticeable and has sharply defined borders and a base covered with a yellowish-gray material. The ulcers may bleed easily if touched.
While men may have only one sore, women can have more than four open ulcers on the thighs or the between the anus and labis. In men, common locations include penis, including head, shaft, opening, or groove behind the penis, and scrotum. Swelling in the groin area is a sign of infection.
The labia majora or the outer lips of vagina are the most common location for chancroid ulcers in women. Some females may even develop kissing ulcers on opposite surfaces of the labia. The infection may spread to the labia minora, inner thighs, or the skin between the anus and genitals.
Women infected with chancroid symptoms may experience pain during intercourse or urination.
Since symptoms of the infection can be confused with syphilis and herpes, your doctor will examine the discharge with a microscope. Chancroid can be treated with antibiotics to kill the bacteria that are causing the infection. If left untreated, the ulcer may cause permanent scarring on the genitals. In women, untreated chancroid could cause serious complications.
Men and women can take precautionary steps to prevent the infection. Some of the preventative measures include:
- Using protection during intercourse
- Practicing safe sex
- Abstaining from vaginal, anal, or oral sex
- Limiting the amount of sexual partners
- Avoiding high-risk activities that raise the risk of getting sexually transmitted infections
- Being honest with your sexual partner and alerting them if you develop the condition
- Avoiding touching sores or ulcers
People infected with Chancroid are at a high risk of developing enlarged inguinal lymph nodes in the fold between the lower abdomen and legs. Swollen inguinal lymph nodes can break open through the skin and cause draining abscesses. Left untreated, the infection may raise the risk of HIV transmission. Timely treatment of Chancroid symptoms is therefore necessary.