Ulcus molle (soft chancre)

The "soft chancre" belongs to the four classic venereal diseases. However, it has been very rare in Europe for 100 years and occurs mainly in Africa, the Caribbean and Asia. Triggers are bacteria of the strain Haemophilus ducreyi. Here you can learn more about symptoms and therapy.

Of microbes and humans

Until the beginning of the last century Ulcus molle (or "Chancroid") was relatively common even in our latitudes. Today it mainly affects tropical and subtropical regions and mainly socially depressed groups. The transmission of the germs occurs through small skin or mucosal injuries in unprotected intercourse. The soft chancre occurs in men significantly more often than in women, circumcised men are less frequently infected. The likelihood of infection is increased in people who already have another sexually transmitted disease.

Hard facts and dark numbers

Exact numbers of illnesses are due to the difficult diagnosis, but also because of the often misunderstood disease not to obtain. The World Health Organization estimates the rate of new disease in 1995 at 7 million worldwide. In the US, outbreaks have been registered in major cities over the last few years; the frequency is estimated to be ten times less common than that of syphilis. In Germany, fewer than 100 cases were diagnosed in 1991-99. Presumably, the real number of diseases is a lot higher.

Symptoms and stages

As with many other sexually transmitted diseases, the name already describes a part of the symptoms: Typical are - quickly developing from small nodules - ulcers ("Ulcus") that feel soft ("molle") and bleed quickly when touched. These extremely painful lesions with typically overhanging margins form at the point of entry of the pathogen within a few days after infection, eg the penis, labia or vagina.

The nearby lymph nodes, for example, in the groin swell after days to weeks usually one-sided strong ("Bubo") and pain. You can fritter and burst.

In men, an inflammation of the glans or constriction of the foreskin may be added. Sometimes the infection goes unnoticed. After weeks the symptoms disappear; However, the pathogens remain in the body and can lead to re-infection.

Proof and therapy

The symptoms may be confused with another, ulcerative sexually transmitted disease such as syphilis or genital herpes. The diagnosis in the laboratory is difficult. It is carried out by microscopic detection of the causative agent of smears from the ulcers or by a culture of the germ. If clinical and laboratory findings are not clear, it may be necessary to exclude one of the other diseases.

Treatment is with antibiotics. Almost always a single high-dose dose is sufficient, usually as an injection into the muscle. To relieve swollen lymph nodes, they can be punctured. Until complete healing, sexual intercourse should be avoided.

In a nutshell

  • The ulcer molle is especially a disease occurring in the tropics and subtropics.
  • Infection occurs through all sexual practices associated with mucosal contacts.
  • Protection offer condoms. The first sign is small, painful ulcers. Complete cure by antibiotics is possible.
  • The sexual partners should be treated if necessary.
  • You can always get infected.
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