Chancroid or Soft Chancre is a sexually transmitted disease caused by “Haemophilus Ducreyi”, a bacterium (parasite) present on the mucous membranes of human and animal bodies. The condition is more common among men and, geographically, it occurs mostly in South-West Asia and Africa, but, unfortunately, it also makes its presence felt in North America or Europe.
It is a highly contagious infection, with an incubation period (the time that elapses from the time of contamination until the first signs of the disease) between 4 and 7 days, it can also be contracted through the touch of the skin of an already infected person, even if the person has no specific symptoms yet.
Most women do not show any symptoms, and when they do, they manifest as some bumps (in relief), red around, and may be a little painful to the touch.
In men, symptoms begins with the appearance of a papule (blister) painful to the touch, surrounded by slightly reddened edema (swelling), which progresses rapidly, within 2-3 days turning into a pustule (vesicle, “pouch” containing pus). This one cracks spontaneously, resulting in purulent ulceration (lesion), bloody and very painful in the genital or perianal area (around the anus), with the possibility of spreading to other areas of the body.
Inflammation (if any) of inguinal lymph nodes (lymph nodes situated in the abdominal region) is unilateral, meaning on one side, both at women and men. Adenopathy (growth in volume) is accompanied by quite severe pain and can even be accompanied by lymph node abscesses that can break and become fluctuant.
In some cases, the lesions evolve unusually, thus several lesions appearing next to each other and after a while they unite, causing enormous wounds. In other cases, inflammation of the lymph nodes only appears after the ulcers have healed.
Some women may also experience greenish and bad smelling vaginal discharge or intense pain during intercourse.
An accurate diagnosis of Chancroid is difficult if we take into account only the clinical signs. Syphilis, LGV, Genital Herpes or Donovanosis also have as a manifestation genital ulcers. It thus requires microscopic examination of samples collected within the lesion or, for even greater accuracy, it may be required special secondary bacterial cultures. In special cases, if the lesions are heavily infected, biopsy is recommended (removal by surgical procedures of a fragment of living tissue to be studied under a microscope).
There are no few cases when Chancroid “comes bundled” together with Genital Herpes, Syphilis or, even worse, with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Therefore, when determining the diagnosis of Chancroid, we will also do tests for the other diseases mentioned.
The treatment is only prescribed by a specialist doctor (which is the gynecologist or the venerologist), who will prescribe a regimen of antibiotics. To make sure that the infection responds properly to the treatment, in addition to the tests, it is also recommended to make an antibiogram.
If done on time, treatment is not costly or long-lasting. There are some antibiotics, specially targeted, which are administered as a single dose, others for 3 days or during a week. The doctor will decide, according to lab results, what is best for each patient.
The Chancroid can heal by itself after a few weeks, leaving behind large scars. But that does not mean that waiting indifferently is the same with visiting the doctor. DO NOT FORGET! There is a danger that, along with the Chancroid, other sexually transmitted infections may be induced too.
To avoid all these inconveniences, you should use a CONDOM every time you have sex. Prevention significantly reduces the risk of infections and is much better than being subjected to various investigations and treatments.