Chancroid (sometimes referred to as ‘soft chancre’) is an acute ulcerative disease, usually of the genitals, caused by infection with the gram-negative anaerobic bacterium, Haemophilus ducreyi. The disease is prevalent in developing countries usually associated with commercial sex workers and their clientele.

Infection in men usually presents as an ulcer or painful swelling in the groin area. Symptoms in women may vary; pain passing urine, painful defecation, rectal bleeding, painful sexual intercourse, or vaginal discharge.

The ulcer can be mistaken for a syphilitic chancre during the early stages of infection. Infection can give rise to swelling and the formation of abscesses in the glands in the groin area, often referred to as buboes.

Diagnosis is confirmed through laboratory testing. The infection is treated with antibiotics. Large lymph node swellings may need to be drained. This will require surgery. Antibiotic treatment usually results in rapid clearing of lesions with a minimal to small amount of scarring.

Last updated: 9 April 2015