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Chancroid

 Chancroid is a highly contagious yet curable sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the bacteria Haemophilus ducreyi [hum-AH-fill-us DOO-cray]. Chancroid causes ulcers, usually on the genitals. Swollen, painful lymph glands, or inguinal buboes [in-GWEEN-al BEW-boes], in the groin area are often associated with chancroid. Left untreated, chancroid may facilitate the transmission of HIV.

About half of infected men have only a single ulcer. Women often have 4 or more ulcers. The ulcers appear in specific locations.
 

Common locations in men are:

  • Foreskin (prepuce)
  • Groove behind the head of the penis (coronal sulcus)
  • Shaft of the penis
  • Head of the penis (glans)
  • Opening of the penis (urethral meatus)
  • Scrotum

 

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.
  • The inner vagina lips (labia minora), the area between the genitals and the anus (perineal area), and inner thighs may also be involved.

How is it spread?

Chancroid is transmitted in two ways:

  • sexual transmission through skin-to-skin contact with open sore(s);
  • non-sexual transmission when pus-like fluid from the ulcer is moved to other parts of the body or to another person.

 

A person is considered to be infectious when ulcers are present. There has been no reported disease in infants born to women with active chancroid at time of delivery.

Symptoms

Within 1 day to 2 weeks after getting chancroid, a person gets 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 irregular or ragged borders;
  • has a base that is covered with a grey or yellowish-grey material;
  • has a base that bleeds easily if banged or scraped.

 

Other Symptoms usually occur within 4-10 days from exposure. They rarely develop earlier than three days or later than 10 days.

  • The ulcer begins as a tender, elevated bump, or papule, that becomes a pus-filled, open sore with eroded or ragged edges.
  • The ulcer is soft to the touch (unlike a syphilis chancre that is hard or rubbery). The term soft chancre is frequently used to describe the chancroid sore.
  • The ulcers can be very painful in men but women are often unaware of them.
  • Because chancroid is often asymptomatic in women, they may be unaware of the lesion(s).
  • Painful lymph glands may occur in the groin, usually only on one side; however, they can occur on both sides.
  • The most common symptoms in women are pain with urination and intercourse.
  • May be asymptomatic in women.

How do I know if I have it?

  • You have ulcers (they can be painful or painless) on vagina, rectum, penis or groin.
  • These ulcers cause pain during sexual intercourse, urination and bowel movement.
  • You have swollen lymph nodes.

Treatment

Chancroid can be treated with antibiotics. Successful treatment cures the infection, resolves symptoms and prevents transmission to others. A follow-up examination should be conducted three to seven days after treatment begins. If treatment is successful, ulcers usually improve within three to seven days. The time required for complete healing is related to the size of the ulcer. Large ulcers may require two weeks or longer to heal. In severe cases, scarring may result. Partners should be examined and treated regardless of whether symptoms are present.

Prevention

  • Abstinence (not having sex);
  • Mutual monogamy (having sex with only one uninfected partner);
  • Latex condoms for vaginal, oral and anal sex. Latex condoms may protect the penis or vagina from infection, but does not protect other areas such as the scrotum or anal area. Chancroid lesions can occur not only in genital areas that are covered or protected by a latex condom, but may also occur in areas that are not covered or protected by a condom. Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, can reduce the risk of chancroid, genital herpes, syphilis, and genital warts, only when the infected areas are covered or protected by the condom.

 

If chancroid is present, avoid contact with the infected area to prevent the chance of spreading the infection to other parts of the body.

How To Stop the Spread?

  • Washing carefully before and after sexual intercourse in to clear away the bacteria from your body.
  • Practicing safe sex (Remember that open sores may appear on the areas that are not protected by a condom).
  • Limiting your number of sexual partners and not going back and forth between them.
  • Having sex with one faithful partner.

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World health/sexuality

  • 83% of all abortions are obtained in developing countries and 17% occur in developed countries.

    © Copyright 1996-2008, The Alan Guttmacher Institute. (www.agi-usa.org)

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