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Chancroid (shang-kroid) is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the bacteria, Haemophilus (he-moff-ah-lus) ducreyi (do-kray-eye). It is characterised by genital ulcers.

What is going on in the body? 
Chancroid is a disease that is spread from one person to another through vaginal, anal or oral sex. About 3 to 10 days after exposure, a newly infected person will develop a tender, red bump on the genitals. Over the next 2 days, this bump evolves into a painful ulcer. Men usually have one ulcer while women can have many. Painful swelling of the lymph nodes in the groin often accompany the ulcer(s).

What are the signs and symptoms of the disease? 
Symptoms include:
  • painful ulcers and swollen groin lymph nodes
  • pain on urination
  • pain with intercourse
What are the causes and risks of the disease? 
Anyone who has sex with an infected person within 10 days of his or her developing symptoms is at risk for the disease. People with chancroid are at greater risk of having other STDs, such as herpes and syphilis (sif-ah-lis), and becoming infected with the AIDS virus.

What can be done to prevent the disease? 
To prevent chancroid, a barrier method (either a latex or plastic condom or a female condom) should be used when having sex. Some male condoms are made with the spermicide nonoxynol-9, which helps kill some organisms that cause STDs. Anyone diagnosed with chancroid should encourage his or her sexual partners to be screened and treated.

How is the disease diagnosed? 
Doctors usually diagnose chancroid based on the symptoms. It also is important to prove that infections that can cause similar symptoms, such as herpes and syphilis, are not present.

What are the long-term effects of the disease? 
Chancroid rarely causes long-term effects, but other infections that sometimes accompany chancroid , such as herpes, syphilis and infection with the AIDS virus, have serious long-term effects.

What are the risks to others? 
This infection can be spread to others through sexual contact even before an ulcer is noticed.

What are the treatments for the disease? 
There are many antibiotics that are effective in treating chancroid including, azithromycin, ceftriaxone, amoxicillin-clavulanate, and ciprofloxacin.

What are the side effects of the treatments? 
Side effects depend on the specific antibiotic used.

What happens after treatment for the disease? 
Improvement occurs within days of starting treatment and is usually complete by 2 weeks. Relapse sometimes occurs, but chancroid will usually respond to a second course of drug treatment. People with chancroid also should be tested for other STDs.

Reviewer: HealthAnswers Australia Medical Review Panel
Editor: Dr David Taylor, Chief Medical Officer HealthAnswers Australia
Last Updated: 1/10/2001
Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request

This website and article is not a substitute for independent professional advice. Nothing contained in this website is intended to be used as medical advice and it is not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional's advice.  All Health and any associated parties do not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information.

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