Granuloma inguinale is a rare type of sexually transmitted disease that causes skin infection on the genitals causing lesions or ulcers on it. It is caused by bacteria and hence the only treatment available is antibiotics. But this type of skin infection of the genitals is extremely rare and few cases have been reported in some parts of India, Brazil, southern Africa and Australia.
Granuloma inguinale affects the soft skin tissue of private parts in both men and women. In men it can cause reddened skin on the penis and scrotum area and in the women it may affect vagina and vulva region. For some people anus and buttocks region can also get inflamed causing pain during intercourse. Once entering the body, the bacterium will remain silent for about 1-2 weeks (incubation period) during which no symptoms are seen.
After some days it would cause lesions or nodules on the penis or vagina causing irritation and pain. It appears as slowly enlarging raised tissue growth and the infection can spread to other skin areas also. Even after healing, the lesions may cause scarring of skin. The lesions may look like chancroids in early stage but after 2 weeks the growth resembles lymphogranuloma venereum. The condition can also represent symptoms of syphilis or vulvar cancer in some women.
Granuloma inguinale is caused by calymmato bacterium or klebsiella granulomatis. The bacteria can enter the body through direct skin contact with the infected person.
The doctor may examine the affected parts of the genitals with the help of microscope. He may collect the sample of fluid from the lesions or ulcerous growth. People who have visited the endemic areas of this infection are at high risk of getting it.
Antibiotics are the first line treatment for granuloma inguinale. Depending on the intensity of infection and health condition of the patient, the doctor may prescribe strong doses of antibiotics or tetracyclines or macrolides. Doxycycline and sulfamethoxazole are the best antibiotics for treating granuloma inguinale. Sometimes, ciprofloxacin or erythromycin is also effective. In severe cases of infection, gentamicin injection is given in the form of intravenous fluid.
Drugs like sufamethoxazole are effective and sometimes it is given in combination with ceftriaxone. Fluoroquinolones or aminoglycosides are also used in treating this skin infection. It is very essential for the affected person to continue and complete the course of medications so that the area would heal completely causing death of bacteria. Within few days of taking medicine, the person can feel better. You have to follow the instructions of your doctor in not having sex until the infection is totally healed. Sex partners should go for diagnosis and take preventive drugs if necessary. Topical ointments are also given for easy healing of lesions but the wound may take longer duration to heal fully.
Who are at risk?
Sexually active men and women are at high risk of contacting this bacterial infection. Tropical regions of Papua New Guinea and some parts of South India and the Caribbean are common areas transmitting this infection. Active men and women of age group of 25-40 years have increased chance of getting granuloma.
The only way to prevent granuloma infection is to refrain from any type of sexual activity by the people who have got infected and developed lesions or ulcer like growth on private parts. Consult your doctor immediately to make diagnosis and take early treatment so that the infection may not spread to other areas.