Learn what symptoms and lesions could be due to a sexually transmitted infection.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are a group of acquired diseases that a patient might get from another person through sexual contact. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 20 million people get infected with an STI each year in the United States, and most are between 15 and 24 years of age. STIs should not make patients feel ashamed, as a prompt consultation will likely cure or control the disease.

Previously, we discussed the most common STIs: chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. In this article, we’ll talk about some more infrequent, but still relevant infections that could often be overlooked.

An infection of the skin or genital mucosa caused by a bacteria named Haemophilus ducreyi. It produces one or various small bumps that transform into ulcers with irregular borders and black tissue in the base. It can be very painful and usually also presents with swollen ganglions. It’s treated with antibiotics which usually cures the disease. Twenty years ago, chancroids used to constitute 69% of all genital ulcers, nowadays, it’s only 15%.

Granuloma Inguinale
Also called donovanosis, is another infection caused by the bacteria Klebsiella granulomatis. The common symptoms are sores and small, beefy-red bumps on the genitals and/or the anal area that later turn into velvety nodules. The skin lesions are often painless but may spread, bleed, and even cause discoloration of the surrounding skin. Long-term treatment with antibiotics can eliminate the infection and prevent scarring. Granuloma inguinale is most common in tropical and subtropical regions, with only around 100 cases in the United States per year.

Is an infection caused by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. Around 70% of the cases are asymptomatic, but this number could be even higher in men, and sometimes clinical manifestations can come and go. In males, it often presents with itching or an irritating sensation in the penis, burning after ejaculating and/or peeing, and in some cases, penile discharge. It can also be cured with an antibiotic, but reinfections are common if the patient maintains the same sexual habits.

Despite being very different entities, all STIs can be prevented by using barrier contraceptive methods such as condoms and practicing sexual activities with partners who have a known medical history.