What is Chancroid? Know its Causes and Symptoms

Posted 24 February, 2023

What is Chancroid? Know its Causes and Symptoms

Chancroid is a type of Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) that causes painful sores or cankers in the genitals. Due to this, the lymph nodes and groin area (the part between the genital and thigh) also starts swelling that leads to pain. It is a highly contagious disease, but can be cured completely with proper medical attention.


Symptoms of Chancroid

Most people with chancroid develop symptoms within 3 to 10 days of becoming infected.

The most common symptom of chancroid are as follows-

  • The formation of painful, red lumps in the genital and vaginal areas, which gradually turn into blisters or open sores.
  • Wounds caused by chancroid are very painful, and these are felt more by women than men.
  • Urethritis (swelling and redness in the urethra) and abnormal vaginal discharge, bleeding and pain from the wound.
  • Dysuria, a condition characterized by pain and burning sensation during urination.

Who is at risk for Chancroid?

  • Sexually active people may pose to be at greater risk for chancroid.
  • Traveling to or living in a country prone to the disease makes a person highly vulnerable to this disease.
  • Heterosexual males are at a greater risk for chancroid.
  • Unprotected sexual act.

Apart from the above, there are some other risk factors as well, which increases the chances of chancroid. These include-

  • Having sexual intercourse with commercial sex workers.
  • Drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Having sexual intercourse with multiple partners.

Causes of Chancroid

This infection is caused by a bacterium called Haemophilus ducreyi (H. Ducreyi). These bacteria affect the tissues of the genitals, causing open sores to form. These lesions are sometimes also called chancroid or ulcers.

Infection of the chancroid occurs in two ways:

  • First, the skin of a healthy person touching the wound of an infected person while having sexual intercourse.
  • Second, when pus or fluid coming out of an infected wound comes in contact with another part of the body or another person, that person also gets chancroid infection. This type of chancroid is not sexually transmitted.

Diagnosis of Chancroid

Physical examination may also be done of the lymph nodes in the groin for checking swelling and pain.

However, diagnosing chancroid on the basis of visual examination can sometimes be difficult due to its similarity in appearance to certain Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) such as syphilis and genital herpes. Therefore, it is necessary to rule out the possibility of two STIs before diagnosing chancroid. Later, a sample of the fluid from the sore is taken & sent to a lab for detailed examination & assert the results.


Prevention methods for Chancroid

  • Avoid getting chancroid by using precautionary measures while having sexual intercourse, such as condoms and other barrier methods.
  • Practice safer sex & limit the number of sexual partners.
  • Avoid activities that may pose greater chances of contracting chancroid or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • Alert all sexual partners to get tested in case you develop chancroid so that they may be treated on time.

Treatment of Chancroid

Chancroid is curable, it is successfully treated with the help of medicines and surgery etc. Treat yourself and your partner as well.



Your doctor may prescribe certain types of antibiotics to kill the bacteria that cause chancroid. Antibiotics may also reduce the chances of scarring after the healing wound.



If you have a large lesion in your lymph nodes, your doctor may remove fluid from it with a needle or with surgery. This helps reduce the swelling and pain of the wound, but it can also lead to some scarring.

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