Symptoms & Signs
Within 1 day – 2 weeks after getting chancroid, a person will get 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
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)
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. Other areas such as the inner vagina lips (labia minora), the area between the genitals and the anus (perineal area), and inner thighs may also be involved. The most common symptoms in women are pain with urination and intercourse.
The ulcer may look like a chancre, the typical sore of primary syphilis.
Approximately half of the people infected with a chancroid will develop enlarged inguinal lymph nodes, the nodes located in the fold between the leg and the lower abdomen.
Half of those who have swelling of the inguinal lymph nodes will progress to a point where the nodes break through the skin, producing draining abscesses. The swollen lymph nodes and abscesses are often referred to as buboes.
Diagnosis & Tests
Chancroid is diagnosed by looking at the ulcer(s) and checking for swollen lymph nodes. There are no blood tests for chancroid.
Review Date : 7/29/2009
Reviewed By : Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Redmond, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.