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How Do You Get Chancroid?

Chancroid is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that typically spreads when someone comes in contact with an ulcer caused by the infection. In rare cases, it can be transmitted via nonsexual contact. Wearing a condom reduces the risk of getting chancroid. Chancroid is quite rare in the United States.

Sexual Transmission

Chancroid spreads through skin-to-skin sexual contact with an infected individual. The infection is most likely to spread when the infected individual has an ulcer, which is usually located in one of the following areas:

  • In men:
    • Penis shaft, head, or opening
    • Groove behind the head of the penis
    • Foreskin
  • In women:
    • Outer lips of the vagina (labia majora)
    • Inner lips of the vagina (labia minora)
  • In both men and women:
    • The space between the anus and genitals (the perineal area)
    • Inner thighs

It’s important to note that chancroid can spread through sexual contact even if no penetration occurs. Having a pre-existing injury in the genital area, such as a small scratch or cut, can make it easier to become infected.

Nonsexual Transmission

Though much less common than sexual transmission, it’s possible for chancroid to spread through nonsexual contact. This occurs when the fluid from a chancroid ulcer spreads to other parts of the body. For example, an infected person could get the fluid from an ulcer on their hands, then come into contact with another person’s skin. This could potentially spread chancroid through nonsexual skin-to-skin contact.

Chancroid Prevention

The best way to reduce your risk of getting chancroid is to wear a latex condom during vaginal, anal, and oral sex. People with a chancroid ulcer can reduce the risk of transmission by not touching the infected area and waiting until their ulcer goes away to have sex.

If you do get chancroid, a medical provider can prescribe antibiotics to cure it.

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