Reviewed by Frank Cockerill, MD, July 21, 2017

A chancre (pronounced shang-kər) is a painless sore or ulcerative lesion, typically found around the genital region. These lesions often look similar to the hard shell of a crab (1 - 2 cm in diameter) which explains why the term 'chancre' comes partly from the Latin word 'cancer' for crab.

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Yes. It's possible for two or more chancres to develop at the same time. Normally this occurs around the genital region, but in some instances can occur on the hands, mouth, or other body surfaces.

Can an STD cause chancres?

Getting tested regularly is the best way to stay up-to-date on your sexual health. If you are having unprotected sex or sex with a new partner, STD testing may be the right decision for you.

Most patients might be surprised to learn that chancres may be a symptom of an STD like syphilis, herpes type 1, or herpes type 2.

Syphilis is curable with antibiotics if detected and treated early. As long as it's treated in the early stages, long-term risks associated with syphilis are minimal.

There is not a cure for herpes type 1 and herpes type 2. Antiviral medications can help prevent the spread of herpes type 1 & 2 but it is not a 100% guarantee. By taking prescribed medications, using condoms and notifying their partners, patients who test positive for herpes type 1 & 2 can help reduce the risk of infecting others, while being sexually active.

Untreated STDs can cause long-term health problems for patients, so it's important to get tested if you believe you're at risk.

Before you can discuss treatment options with a doctor, you need to get tested.

Chancres & Syphilis

The chancre forms during the primary stage of syphilis. If left untreated, syphilis can progress from the primary to the secondary stage, and then to the latent stage - each of which increases the risk of long-term complications.

How do chancres spread?

Chancres are highly contagious and can last 1-5 weeks. The disease can be transmitted from skin-to-skin contact with the sore. Condoms can be used to lessen the chances of infecting a partner if the sore is outside of the vagina or on the male's penis.

If the sore is in the mouth, it is possible to spread the syphilis infection by simply kissing.

Are chancroids & chancres the same thing?

No they are not! Chancroid is a sexually transmitted disease caused by a bacteria that causes painful sores around the genital region. It is primarily found in developing nations. Chancroid infection levels are typically low in developed countries like the United States. Most individuals who get diagnosed with chancroid have visited a country where this disease frequently is found.

Unlike chancres, chancroids can be a contributing risk factor for contracting HIV.

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