Chancroid: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Chancroid is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria. It causes painful open sores (ulcers) in the genital area and swelling of the lymph nodes in the groin. Chancroid is not common in the United States. However, it is more common in people who have HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection. Some people who have chancroid also have syphilis or genital herpes.

Chancroid is treated with antibiotics. You can spread the infection as long as you have any open sores.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take your antibiotics as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Do not have sexual contact with anyone while you are being treated or while you have open sores. Even if you use a condom, you and your partner may pass the infection back and forth.
  • Wash your hands if you touch an infected area. This will help prevent spreading the infection.
  • Tell your sex partner or partners that you have chancroid. They should be treated, even if they do not have symptoms of infection.

Prevent chancroid

  • Talk to your partner before you have sex. Find out if he or she has or is at risk for chancroid or any other STD. Keep in mind that a person may be able to spread an STI even if he or she does not have symptoms.
  • Do not have sex while you are being treated for chancroid or any other STI.
  • Do not have sex with anyone who has symptoms of an STI, such as sores on the genitals or mouth.
  • Not having sex or having only one sex partner (who does not have STIs and does not have sex with anyone else) is a sure way to avoid STIs.
  • Use a new latex condom every time you have sex. Use them from the beginning to the end of sexual contact. Do not use a condom more than once.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have severe pain low in your belly.
  • You have severe vaginal bleeding. This means that you are soaking through your usual pads or tampons each hour for 2 or more hours.
  • You have a new discharge from the vagina or penis and a fever.
  • You have burning or pain when you urinate, or you have a fever and are unable to urinate.
  • You have new pain, swelling, or tenderness in the scrotum and a fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have joint pain.
  • Your symptoms continue or come back after treatment, or new symptoms develop.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.