Obi, 22, noticed a small boil on the tip of his penis which later burst to form a very painful sore. About a week later, he also observed painful swellings in his groin.
He also felt pain when urinating.
He went to see a doctor who after examining him requested some laboratory investigations.
The results showed that Obi had Chancroid.
The doctor prescibed antibiotics and other medications and the symptoms resolved.
What Is Chancroid?
Chancroid is a sexually transmitted infection caused by bacteria. It is usually characterised by a painful sore on the penis.
Although men and women are both affected, chancroid is commoner in men especially those who are uncircumcised.
It is common in developing countries especially among commercial sex workers and people of low socioeconomic status.
What Causes Chancroid?
Chancroid is caused by a type of bacteria.
The infection is usually transmitted from person to person during unprotected sexual intercourse.
The bacteria enter the body through tiny unseen cuts or breakages in the skin.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Chancroid?
Chancroid usually begins a painful boil which often appears five to seven days after the infection.
The boil then breaks down to form an extremely painful and deep sore with soft, irregular margins. The sore tends to bleed easily on contact.
Men usually have just one sore while women may have up to four.
The sore may be on any part of the penis in men and the pubic area in women.
Other symptoms that the patient may experience include:
- Painful swellings in the groin
- Pain during urination
- Pain during intercourse
How Is Chancroid Diagnosed?
Sexually transmitted infections such as Syphilis and genital herpes usually resemble chancroid.
However, the sore in syphilis is usually not painful while genital herpes which causes a painful sore, isn’t associated with groin swellings.
To confirm the diagnosis of chancroid, laboratory tests are usually required.
- Blood test to pick up particles of the bacteria
- Examination of the fluid oozing from the sore under the microscope to visualise the bacteria
- Tests to exclude the presence of other sexually transmitted infections such as syphilis, HIV, herpes, gonorrhoea etc
How Is Chancroid Treated?
The mainstay of treatment of chancroid are antibiotics which may be given by mouth or as injection into the buttocks.
Chancroid is known to be resistant to many antibiotics and the doctor would usually pick from those that are known to kill the bacteria.
For people with abscesses (swellings that contain pus), drainage would have to be done.
Treatment of partner (s) whether experiencing symptoms or not is also recommended to prevent re-infection of the patient.
What Complications Are Associated With Chancroid?
Chancroid is usually limited to the pubic region and does not spread to other parts of the body.
However if left untreated, chancroid may lead to:
- Large abscesses
- Infection with other bacteria
- Increased risk of HIV infection
How Can Chancroid Be Prevented?
There is no vaccine to prevent chancroid.
Preventive measures that can be taken include:
- Abstinence from sexual intercourse
- Consistent and correct condom use in those who are sexually active.
- Avoidance of having multiple sexual partners.
- Prompt treatment of genital sores in partners.
Chancroid is a disease that causes great distress to the patient.
With proper treatment, the patients usually recover fully.
Treatment of partner (s) is also very important to prevent a re-infection.
If left untreated, it is known to increase the risk of HIV infection by up to 50 percent.