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Chancroid: a sexually transmitted disease

Chancroid is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) of bacterial origin. Although rare in France, this sexually transmitted disease (STD) remains widespread in other parts of the world.

What is chancroid?

Also called chancroid or chancre of Ducrey, chancroid is a sexually transmitted disease (STD), or more accurately a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

What is the cause of chancroid?

Chancroid is an STI of bacterial origin. It is caused by the bacterium Haemophilus decry , better known as Bacillus Ducrey. This infectious agent is transmitted during unprotected sexual intercourse, whatever its type, between two partners.

Who is affected by chancroid?

Chancroid is an STD that can affect both sexes. Nevertheless, the consequences of this infection are different between men and women. Chancroid in men is much more painful than in women. It is for this reason that it is more easily and more often diagnosed in men than in women.

In France and Europe, cases of chancroid are rare. This STI is more prevalent in subtropical and tropical countries, including some in Africa, South America and Asia.

What is the evolution of chancroid?

The incubation time of this MST is short. It usually lasts between 2 and 5 days but can sometimes last up to two weeks. As it develops, chancroid causes:

  • an ulceration of the skin , characterized by the appearance of various lesions, which can in particular be at the origin of a paraphimosis, a strangulation of the glans in the man;
  • lymphadenopathy , that is, swelling of the lymph nodes , which can lead to abscess.

What are the symptoms of chancroid?

Chancroid is manifested by ulceration of the skin with the appearance of multiple lesions. These can occur at the level:

  • external male genitals such as the glans, the foreskin or the sheath;
  • internal female genital organs such as the vagina;
  • of the orifice of the anus.

How to prevent chancroid?

The prevention of chancroid is based on:

  • adequate protection during sexual intercourse, including condom use, to limit the risk of infection;
  • good body hygiene to limit the development of Haemophilus decry bacteria .

In case of doubt or risky sex, a screening test is recommended. For more information on STD / STI screening, you can find out from:

  • a health professional such as a general practitioner, a gynecologist or a midwife;
  • a free information, screening and diagnostic center (CeGIDD);
  • a Family Planning and Education Center (CPEF).

The diagnosis

Chancroid can be detected as early as possible to reduce the risk of complications and contamination. The diagnosis of chancroid is made by bacteriological examination . This one makes it possible to distinguish a chancroid of other pathologies. Indeed, there are other diseases that can induce a chancre but their characteristics are different. A chancroid is sometimes confused with primary syphilis , genital herpes , Nicolas-Favre’s disease or donovanosis.

Possible treatments

The treatment of chancroid is essentially based on antibiotic therapy. This consists in killing or limiting the growth of pathogenic bacteria germs. While penicillin is ineffective against Haemophilus decry , other antibiotics have been shown to be effective in treating chancroid:

  • cotrimoxazole;
  • macrolides;
  • fluoroquinolones;
  • 3rd generation cephalosporins.

In cases of lymphadenopathy associated with chancroid, surgical drainage may be required.

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