There is usually a lack of complete awareness regarding the different types of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and their treatment pathways. It may lead to delayed treatment or unnecessary panic when you notice the symptoms of these STIs.

Chancroid is a type of STI that is painful and highly contagious. Hence, prompt treatment is recommended if you develop chancroid symptoms. Here is everything you need to know about Chancroid and how to treat it.

What Are Chancroid Ulcers?

Chancroid is a bacterial infection marked by open sores or ulcers around the genitals. The condition is caused by a bacteria called Haemophilus ducreyi. The bacteria affect the tissue around the genitals, resulting in ulcers or open sores.

The top chancroid symptoms include bleeding ulcers around the genitals. These open sores may also leak a contagious fluid responsible for the spread of chancroid. The infection can spread via skin contact, as well as oral, vaginal, or anal intercourse. Hence, chancroid is classified as a sexually transmitted infection.

Effective chancroid treatment can heal these ulcers and prevent the further spread of infection to your sexual partners. Therefore, you must visit a doctor as soon as you notice any signs of infection.

What Are The Common Chancroid Symptoms?

chancroid treatment
The symptoms of chancroid usually appear within 4 days to a week of being exposed to Haemophilus ducreyi. The symptoms vary slightly for the penis and vagina and can be identified as stated below.

1. Symptoms Around The Penis:

  • Small red bumps around the genitals.
  • The bumps turn into open sores in a day or two.
  • These sores may appear anywhere on the genitals, the penis, or the scrotum.
  • The sores are usually painful.

2. Symptoms Around The Vagina:

  • There are four or more bumps around the genitals.
  • The bumps may appear between the labia and anus and even on your thighs.
  • The bumps turn into open sores in a few days.
  • Open sores lead to pain during urine or bowel discharge.

3. Other Chancroid Symptoms:

  • The ulcers are usually 1-2 cm in size.
  • They may bleed easily if you touch them.
  • A chancroid ulcer usually has a gray center with sharp boundaries.
  • Painful intercourse or urination are also signs of the infection.
  • You may also notice a swelling in the groin region.
  • Chancroid is often accompanied by swelling in the lymph nodes.
  • The lymph nodes may swell up and break through the skin, causing abscesses with pus.

As chancroid is caused by sexual intercourse with an infected partner, be vigilant about these symptoms if you have recently had sex with an unknown or possibly infected person.

If you are suffering from any or all of the above symptoms, you must consult a doctor immediately for the appropriate chancroid treatment. Do note that visually, the symptoms of various STIs may look similar.

Hence, a proper diagnosis of the infection is essential to ensure the right treatment approach. Because of this reason, self-diagnosis or self-treatment of chancroid is dangerous and not recommended.

So, if you notice any signs and symptoms of chancroid, get yourself tested at the earliest and ask your sexual partners to get tested, as well. Also, avoid sexual intercourse till you are fully cured of the infection.

Who Is At A Higher Risk Of Chancroid?

Risk Of Chancroid
Chancroid is caused by a bacterial infection that spreads through sexual intercourse and skin contact. Hence, the following are the risk factors for this infection:

  • Being sexually active, especially with multiple partners, as it increases the chance of coming in contact with an infected person.
  • Travel to countries where chancroid is prevalent.
  • Having intercourse with sex workers
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Risky sexual activities with those exhibiting signs and symptoms of chancroid
  • Living in an area where chancroid is common

Hence, the best way to avoid being infected with Haemophilus ducreyi and developing chancroid is to practice safe sex and avoid multiple sexual partners. By abstaining from risky sexual activities, you can minimize your chances of developing chancroid.

How Is Chancroid Diagnosed?

Since chancroid is caused by bacteria, detection of the bacteria in the ulcers is the only definite way to diagnose chancroid.

The doctor will extract some fluid from the ulcers and send it for lab testing.

Apart from a bacterial culture, studies list[1] down a few other diagnostic methods to detect chancroid. These include direct microscopy, antigen detection assays, and DNA amplification.

Through these diagnostic tests, the presence of Haemophilus ducreyi is confirmed to diagnose chancroid. Furthermore, other STIs like syphilis and herpes are also ruled out via tests as they can have visually similar symptoms.

While a visual diagnosis of chancroid is not possible, the doctor may also examine your lymph nodes to understand the severity of chancroid symptoms.

What Are The Different Treatment Options For Chancroid?

Different Treatment Options For Chancroid
Chancroid treatment comprises antibiotics to eradicate bacterial infection. After a thorough diagnosis, your doctor will prescribe you an antibiotic based on your health history.

Studies list[2] various antibiotics that you may use for the treatment of STIs. These include erythromycin, azithromycin, ceftriaxone, and ciprofloxacin. These antibiotics will eliminate the infection-causing bacteria and may help relieve the symptoms of ulcers.

By following the recommended antibiotic course, Haemophilus ducreyi bacteria might be eliminated from the infection site. Also, your symptoms should subside within two weeks. However, it is crucial to complete the full course of the antibiotics as per the dosage and duration recommended by your doctor, even after you see a reduction in symptoms.

Additionally, your doctor may also use methods like surgery or needle drainage to treat other chancroid symptoms, namely swollen lymph nodes. These methods are used in case of pus accumulation in the swollen lymph nodes. The doctor will drain out the pus to relieve the pain, discomfort, and swelling. This procedure may leave behind a small scar, but it is quite safe.

With these treatment strategies, chancroid can be fully cured, and the signs and symptoms of chancroid can be eliminated.

Ways On How To Prevent Chancroid

As chancroid is caused by bacterial infection through sexual intercourse, practicing safe sex is the best way to prevent infection.

To prevent being infected with Haemophilus ducreyi, avoid multiple partners and unsafe sex. It will minimize your risk of developing all sexually transmitted infections, including chancroid. Use condoms and other barrier methods while having sex to avoid contact with a chancroid ulcer.

Also, avoid having sex with those with an unknown medical history or multiple sexual partners. Refraining from intercourse with commercial sex workers will also help in this regard.

As important as avoiding chancroid or getting treatment for the infection is preventing its spread. So, if you develop any signs and symptoms of chancroid, abstain from sex till you are fully cured.

Also, inform all your recent sexual partners regarding the same and encourage them to get tested as well. Sexual abstinence till the completion of chancroid treatment can minimize the chances of an infected person spreading the infection.

How Long Does Chancroid Last?

Chancroid Ulcer
The signs and symptoms of chancroid usually appear within 4 to 7 days of being infected. You may develop red bumps after a week of infection, which may transform into painful open sores within the next 2-4 days. Furthermore, your lymph nodes may swell at this point and may create abscesses or develop pus.

If you notice a chancroid ulcer in your genital area, you must get yourself tested for the condition immediately. Visit a doctor for the appropriate treatment because your symptoms may worsen with time instead of healing on their own.

Chancroid treatment is the only effective way to cure the condition. With the proper treatment, your symptoms should start to improve within two weeks. However, you must continue to take your medication for the whole duration recommended by your doctor.

FAQs About Chancroid

A chancroid ulcer should ideally begin to heal within two weeks of taking the appropriate antibiotics. You should not leave them untreated and must seek medical attention as soon as you notice any symptoms.

Chancroid is caused by a bacterial infection that spreads through sexual intercourse and skin contact. Hence, you must practice safe sex and avoid multiple sex partners to prevent infection.

No, syphilis and chancroid are both sexually transmitted diseases, but they are caused by different micro-organisms. Hence, chancroid treatment is quite different from syphilis treatment.

Chancroid is most prevalent in Africa, the Caribbean region, and some parts of West Asia. Since chancroid is caused by sexual intercourse with infected partners, it is best to avoid unprotected sex with unknown people when visiting these regions.

A chancroid ulcer is a painful open sore around the genitals that may bleed when touched. It usually has a center that is gray or yellowish-gray in color, with sharp boundaries.

Yes, Amoxicillin is considered a suitable chancroid treatment for patients. However, your doctor may prescribe you a different antibiotic based on your medical history and what they believe will be most effective in your case.


Chancroid is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection that many may not be aware of. Chancroid is caused by skin contact or any form of sexual intercourse with a person infected with the disease-causing bacteria.

The signs and symptoms of chancroid include painful open sores around genitals that may bleed upon touch. Other symptoms include swollen or pus-filled lymph nodes, painful urination, and discomfort during sex.

The best way to cure the condition is to seek chancroid treatment at the earliest. After diagnosis, your doctor will prescribe you a course of antibiotics to treat the infection.

While chancroid is completely curable, it is quite a painful condition that may also spread to your sexual partners. So, practice safe sex at all times to minimize the risk of getting infected.