Genital Ulcers: Chancroid Symptoms

  • Symptoms

    Chancroid causes painful sores on the genitals Table 01. Two to five days after infection with chancroid, a small pimplelike sore appears (usually on the external genitalia, but possibly on the anal region, depending on sexual activity). The small pimple becomes filled with pus, and then opens and enlarges. This open sore, also known as an ulcer, has irregular, ragged, soft edges. More sores may develop, and may join together to form a larger sore. Sores may become infected with other bacteria, and emit a foul-smelling discharge.

    Tender, swollen glands are common in chancroid. About half of patients with chancroid develop swollen and tender glands in the area of the sore within one to three weeks after infection, usually on one side of the body. The overlying skin may become red and warm, indicating that the gland is infected, filled with pus, and has formed an abscess. In some cases, the infection opens through the skin, draining the abscess.

    Some people feel mildly ill. A moderate fever and malaise sometimes occur with chancroid.

    Table 1.  Symptoms of Chancroid

    Sores on the genitals or in the anal region (closed pimple, then open sore)
    Tender, swollen glands, especially in the groin, that may open through the skin
    Fever and malaise

    Other sexually transmitted diseases cause genital sores.. Possible causes of these sores include chancroid, genital herpes, or syphilis. These diseases are present in the population at different rates throughout the country, but in most areas genital herpes is most common.

  • Risk Factors

    Engaging in unprotected sexual activity places you at increased risk for contracting sexually transmitted diseases such as chancroid.

    Having sexual relations with multiple partners or sex workers increases your risk for chancroid. Chancroid is more common in certain tropical countries than in the U.S. Engaging in sexual activity without condoms, with multiple partners, or with people who have multiple partners increases your risk of acquiring any sexually transmitted disease.

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