Chancroid at a Glance
- A sexually transmitted disease (STD)
- Common symptoms include sores on the genitals
- Treatment is available
- Easily spread
- Condoms reduce your risk of infection
STDs are very common. But we can protect ourselves and each other from STDs like chancroid. Learning more about chancroid is an important first step.
Here are some of the most common questions we hear people ask about chancroid. We hope you find the answers helpful, whether you think you may have chancroid, have been diagnosed with it, or are just curious about it.
What Is Chancroid?
Because chancroid is not common, many people are not sure what it is. Chancroid (SHANG-kroid) is a type of bacteria that is transmitted through sexual contact. It causes sores on the genitals.
Chancroid was once common in the United States, but now it is rare. It is more common in men than in women.
What Are the Symptoms of Chancroid?
Chancroid symptoms usually appear about 4–10 days after infection. Chancroid symptoms may include
- Open sores, usually on the penis, rectum, and vulva — especially around the opening to the vagina. Sores may produce pus and be painful.
- Swollen glands in the groin.
How Can I Know If I Have Chancroid?
Only a health care provider can diagnose chancroid. Chancroid symptoms can be confused with other infections, such as herpes and syphilis. Your health care provider will examine the discharge from the sore with a microscope to make a diagnosis.
Is There a Treatment for Chancroid?
Chancroid is easily treated with antibiotics. Both you and your partner should be treated at the same time.
Where Can I Get a Test or Treatment for Chancroid?
Staff at your local Planned Parenthood health center, many other clinics, health departments, and private health care providers can diagnose chancroid and help you get any treatment you may need.
How Is Chancroid Spread?
Chancroid is spread through skin-to-skin contact during sex play. People can also spread chancroid from one place to another on their bodies if they touch the sores.
How Can I Prevent Getting or Spreading Chancroid?
There are several ways to help prevent getting chancroid or spreading it to other people:
- You can abstain from vaginal and anal intercourse, and oral sex.
- If you choose to have vaginal or anal intercourse, use female or latex condoms every time.
- If you choose to have oral sex, use a condom, Glyde dam, or dental dam.
- Avoid touching the chancroid sores. If you do touch one, carefully wash your hands to reduce the risk that you spread the infection to another part of your body.
Chancroid and HIV
Chancroid sores may make it easier to contract HIV. If you are at risk for HIV and have a chancroid sore, it is especially important to abstain from sex play. If you do have sex, you can reduce your risk of getting HIV and other STDs by using latex or female condoms.
Find Dr. Cullins' Answers to Common Sexual Health Questions
Q&A with Dr. Cullins