What is a Chancroid Culture?
culture is used to determine if you have a sexually transmitted infection (STI)
known as chancroid. Chancroid is caused
by Haemophilus ducreyi. It can only be transmitted through sexual
contact. Chancroid causes fluid-filled ulcers
on the genitals.
culture requires a small sample of skin from a chancroid ulcer. Any bacteria
found in this sample are then grown in a lab. According to an article in the Canadian
Journal of Infectious Disease Medicine (CJIDM), most laboratories consider
chancroid culture the “gold standard” for diagnosing this STI (CJIDM 2011).
Chancroid is rare in the United
States. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH),
less than 50 cases are diagnosed in the United States every year. The STI is more
common in developing countries. Most U.S. citizens who have chancroid get it while travelling abroad (NIH,
is often mistaken for more common STIs such as syphilis and herpes.
Who Needs a Chancroid
Call your doctor
if you have symptoms of chancroid. You may also need testing if you have
engaged in high-risk, unprotected sexual behavior.
to the Illinois
Department of Public Health (IDPH), chancroid usually appears as a small bump
about 10 days after contact with the bacteria (IDPH, 2008). The bump grows into a soft ulcer. This
ulcer often drains pus and fluid.
Characteristics of the ulcer include:
- 1/8 inch to
2 inches across
- soft (unlike
syphilis sores, which are hard and rubbery)
- ragged gray,
or yellowish edges
easily at the base
On men, the ulcer appears on the:
- behind or
on the head of the penis
- shaft or
opening the penis
On women, ulcers
usually develop on the outer vaginal lips. They may also occur on:
- the inner vaginal lips
- the perineal area (between the
genitals and the anus)
- the inner thighs
Women may have as many as four or more
ulcers. About half of men have only one ulcer.
Women often show no symptoms. They may
experience pain during urination and intercourse. The ulcers may not be
How Is a Chancroid Culture Performed?
healthcare provider will take a sample from an ulcer. This is often done with a
cotton swab. The swab is taken to a laboratory where a technician will attempt
to grow (culture) the Hemophilus
ducreyi bacteria. The swab needs to reach a laboratory quickly. Otherwise, the
bacteria will die.
How Is Chancroid Treated?
can go away without treatment. However, this can take one to three months.
Scarring may occur.
Chancroid will generally go away much faster with antibiotics. The following antibiotics are commonly prescribed to treat chancroid:
nodes are infected, they may need to be drained. This can be done with localized surgery or a needle.
recommended that sexual activity be discontinued until the ulcers have healed
What Are the Complications of Chancroid?
A chancroid infection increases your risk of HIV. People who already
have HIV and get chancroid may experience slow healing. They may also require more
treatment. Half of people with chancroid will develop
swollen inguinal lymph nodes. These are the lymph nodes near the groin.
Swollen inguinal lymph nodes may break
through the skin and form a large, hard abscess. This is called a bubo. A bubo requires surgical
drainage. If the bubo breaks open, it may become infected with bacteria.
If you are
uncircumcised, scar tissue from the ulcer can cause phimosis. This tightens the foreskin so that it cannot retract. Circumcision
may be needed to fix the problem.
What Is the Long-Term
Outlook for Chancroid?
Chancroid can be treated easily with
antibiotics. It may get better without treatment, but this can be a long and
uncomfortable process. Antibiotics help clear the ulcers quickly without
Treatment reduces your risk of
How Can I Prevent
The only way to guarantee you do not
get chancroid is to avoid all forms of sexual activity.
You may reduce your risk of getting
chancroid and other STIs by engaging in safer sex practices. Use of a male or
female condom at all times during each sexual encounter is strongly urged.