Chancroid is an infective disease, which commonly infects the genital area. It is highly infectious, that is, may pass on easily from one person to another.
How Do You Get Infected?
It is caused by a bacteria haemophilus ducreyi. This bacteria may infect the skin or mucosal area of your genital region, when you become intimate with someone already infected. There have to be certain cuts, or cracks over the affected skin or microabrasions during rough sex for the bacteria to invade further.
Now, this bacteria over your skin/ mucosa, would try to invade and get inside the tissue through those cracks or cuts.
The bacteria colonizes in the subcutaneuos tissue, that is, the region just below the skin. It multiplies and produces an ulcer.
The bacteria necrotizes the body tissues. Typically the ulcer is irregular in shape, pus filled, smelly and painful. Large populations of this germ may be produce, ready to infect other healthy skin areas which come in touch.
Infection may spread by direct skin contact or via spread of infected material from the ulcer to other parts, like the inner vulva, vagina, cervix in women, penis, scrotum in males.
The perineum, that is the area between the anus and penis may also get infected. You may notice small ulcers around the mouth, in cases of oro- anal sex.
- Typical symptom is appearance of an ulcer, which appears within 4 to 5 days of infection. This gradually increases in size and severity.
- The ulcer has irregular or rugged borders. It is shallow initially. Since the bacteria necrotizes the inner subcutaneuos tissues, you find pus in the ulcer. It may show yellow to greyish pus in it. There may also be some blood leaking from it.
- Ulcers are extremely painful. They appear commonly over the upper portion of the penis and vulva. Rarely, the lower penis and scrotum may be affected in males.
- In females, it may spread into the vagina, upto the cervix. The area around the anus, mouth may be affected in cases where sex involves these areas.
- There is no fever or bodily symptoms in most cases.
- Inguinal lymph nodes may show enlarged in almost half cases. They appear swollen and painful. They are termed as buboes.
- Buboes may gradually become bigger and painful, as they become filled with pus. They may finally burst out of the skin.
- Pain during urination may be seen in cases where the ulcer is situated over inner penile region, urethra, inner lips in females or the clitoris.
- In most cases, there is pain and discomfort during sex.
Hard Sores vs Soft Sores
The pustules produced by chancroid infections are called soft sores. While, those produced due to syphillis infection are called hard sores.
Both these are tiny pus filled pustules, that gradually increase in size to finally ulcerate. Both are genetically transmitted diseases and appear over the genital areas.
The difference lies in the fact that ulcers of chancroid have soft margins, while those of syphillis are hard. Also, chancroid lesions are very painful. Syphillitic ulcers are painless, unless further infected by some other bacteria.
Management and Treatment
The first step is recognizing the sore. Chancroid lesions are very typical. However, you need to be exmined by a doctor for diagnosis.
A biopsy or culture from the ulcer may confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment compromises maintaining a good personal hygiene, avoiding sex and taking a full course of antibiotics.
Commonly, azithromyicn or ceftriaxone are given for 7 to 10 days.