Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention of Chancroid

As beautiful as the name looks and sounds, Chancroid is a deadly health challenge which has never been taken for granted without lethal consequences.  It is an infection caused by a bacterium which is contracted through sexual intercourse.

In other words, Chancroid is a Sexually Transmitted Infection whose causative organism is a Gram-negative bacterium called Haemophilus ducreyi. Chancroid can get complicated, is highly contagious, and bears more difficulty with it than any other Sexually Transmitted Infection. Be that as it may and thankfully, it is curable.

Can you tell it is Chancroid?

Chancroid belongs to the genus classification of STIs that are characterized by the presence of ulcer on the genitals. These ulcer-possessing infections seep through the skin of the affected genitals and lay siege on the subcutaneous tissues of the genitals. There, the infections bring about tissue damage and the development of open and festering sores otherwise known as ulcers.

Chancroid manifests as the ulceration of the male and female genitals. It could start as a papule (small, rash-like bump), which grows into a boil filled with pus, progressing into a painful open sore which is highly contagious.

In men, the open sore or ulcer is usually single while in women, there are many of such sores and lesions from the ulceration of their vulva, clitoris, labia, vestibule, vagina, or cervix.

The lesion from Chancroid is called soft chancre given that it is not hardened compared to the chancre from syphilis infection. In circumcised men, the lesion is on a groove in the penis known as the coronal sulcus. In uncircumcised men, it can be found on the foreskin of the penis. There is a second infection when the fluid from the ulcer drains to another part of the body; meaning that the ulcer or open sore can be re-infected by other harmful microorganisms.

What could cause Chancroid?

The organism of concern, as mentioned earlier, is Haemophilus ducreyi. It passes from a person to another through a direct skin-to-skin contact with the infected lesion. The direct contact can be through sexual intercourse or when pus-like fluid moves from the open sore on a body to another person's body.

Who are at a great risk of suffering from Chancroid?

Those who are most likely to have cases of Chancroid include:

  • Commercial sex workers
  • People with multiple sexual partners
  • Low-income earners and people with access to low quality of life
  • People who abuse drugs and alcoholic beverages
  • People residing in areas where Chancroid is a common infection
  • Uncircumcised men
  • People who have sex with HIV-positive persons

What are some of the symptoms of Chancroid?

In women, there is often no presentation of symptoms when Chancroid is present. However, in persons with symptoms, they show within four to ten days after exposure to H. ducreyi. Some of the symptoms are:

  • Soft chancre which is extremely painful in men
  • Painful lymph glands
  • Painful urination in women
  • Painful sexual intercourse in women
  • The appearance of many rashes at the same time, in women
  • Ulcer bleeds during sex, and when touched

How Chancroid is diagnosed

According to David A. Lewis, the main method for the diagnosis of Chancroid which has proven to be effective is ‘in vitro culture for H. ducreyi.’

Other diagnostic methods listed by Lewis are:

  • Microscopy
  • DNA Amplification Techniques
  • Antigen Detection
  • Nucleic Acid Probe Technology
  • Serological Tests, and
  • Mass Spectrometric Methods

Treatment for Chancroid

It is less complicating when Chancroid is treated as soon as it is suspected with sufficient clinical evidence.

Antibiotics are drugs of choice in the treatment of Chancroid and it is imperative to complete the dosage prescribed by a doctor for Chancroid to be cured. One's regular sexual partner should be treated also, with or without any symptom showing.

Examples of antibiotics used for the treatment of Chancroid are Azithromycin, Erthromycin, Ciprofloxacin, and Ceftriaxone.

Complications arising from Chancroid

If Chancroid is left untreated, there is a risk of superinfection whereby the sores on the genitals become re-infected with other pathogens, or the pus-like fluid could spread to other parts of the body to infect them.

Also, it is easy for HIV to get transmitted through sexual contact if Chancroid is left untreated. It is so bad that it could degenerate and eat up tissues of the genitals when left untreated.

Ways to prevent Chancroid infection

To keep safe from Chancroid, one needs to abstain from every form of sexual activity, including oral sex. However, in the event of desiring sexual intercourse, the use of protective barriers such as condoms is important.

Remaining faithful to one's sexual partner, and having your partner tested and treated when Chancroid is suspected is life-saving.

In the end, a  healthy life is an intentional decision.