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Chancroid is a bacterial infection that is spread only through sexual contact.



Chancroid is caused by a type of bacteria called Haemophilus ducreyi.The infection is found mainly in developing and third world countries. Very few people are diagnosed each year with this infection. Most people in the U.S. who are diagnosed with chancroid have traveled outside the country to areas where the infection is more common.



Within 1 day - 2 weeks after getting chancroid, a person will get a small bump in the genitals. The bump becomes an ulcer within a day of its appearance. The ulcer:

Ranges in size from 1/8 inch to 2 inches across

Is painful

Is soft

Has sharply defined borders

Has a base that is covered with a grey or yellowish-grey material

Has a base that bleeds easily if it is banged or scraped

About half of infected men have only a single ulcer. Women often have four or more ulcers. The ulcers appear in specific locations.


Common locations in men are:


Groove behind the head of the penis

Shaft of the penis

Head of the penis

Opening of the penis


In women the most common location for ulcers is the outer lips of the vagina (labia majora). "Kissing ulcers" may develop. These are ulcers that occur on opposite surfaces of the labia.


Other areas, such as the inner vagina lips (labia minora), the area between the genitals and the anus (perineal area), and the inner thighs may also be involved. The most common symptoms in women are pain with urination and intercourse.The ulcer may look like a chancre, the typical sore of primary syphilis. About half of the people who are infected with a chancroid will develop enlarged inguinal lymph nodes, the nodes located in the fold between the leg and the lower abdomen.In half of people who have swelling of the inguinal lymph nodes, the nodes will break through the skin and cause draining abscesses. The swollen lymph nodes and abscesses are often called buboes.


Exams and Tests:

Chancroid is diagnosed by looking at the ulcer(s) and checking for swollen lymph nodes. There are no blood tests for chancroid.



The infection is treated with antibiotics. Large lymph node swellings need to be drained, either with a needle or local surgery.