Chancroid (pronounced: shang-kroid) is an STD caused by a bacteria. It is rare to find it outside tropical and developing countries, though any sexually active person can be infected by it via skin-to-skin contact (which means any sex act, including sex play, can spread it). More men are infected by chancroid than women.

There is a greater likelihood of spreading chancroid if a person is very sexually active, does not practice safer sex, and does not have good hygiene. The bacteria is likely to enter the body where a small cut or scratch exists (i.e. an open wound or injury).

Symptoms are the appearance of one or more sores or raised bumps on the penis, rectum, vulva, and thighs surrounded by a red border that soon becomes filled with pus and eventually ruptures. This will usually happen within 4 to 10 days after infection. The sores, which range in size from 1 to 2 mm up to 1 to 2 cm in diameter, then become open and painful. View photos of chancroid on The STD Project site here.

Chancroid is curable and treated with antibiotics; lesions and ulcers will heal in about 2 weeks. If left untreated, 5 to 10 days after the initial sores appear the chancroid bacteria can infect the lymph glands in the groin and the glands on one or both sides will swell, and become hard and painful. Those swollen glands can eventually rupture.

Condoms can help limit the transmission of chancroid, but do not guarantee protection against it. Limiting the number of sex partners and washing genitals before and after sex can also reduce chances of infection. Washing hands is also important, so the infection is not spread to another part of the body from touching.

Chancroid can sometimes be confused with herpes or syphilis, but a swab of the discharge from a sore can determine a diagnosis. To find a location to get tested for chancroid visit our resources page, or Google test centers in your area.

***This is a blog and the information on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, nor is it meant to take the place of your personal physician’s advice.***