Syphilis – Symptoms and Treatment

Syphilis is a STI or sexually transmitted infection and happens to be a very common one. The causative bacterium is Treponema pallidum. This infection can spread through mucus membrane or broken skin and it can be passed on to the developing baby in the womb of pregnant mother. It is important that that syphilis is treated in order to prevent serious health issues. Though, it is a STI, you do not need to have sexual intercourse in order to get syphilis. Being in close contact with an infected person’s genital, rectum or mouth can expose you to the infection as well.

syphilis symptoms and treatment

Symptoms of Syphilis

There are four different stages of this disease and the symptoms depend on the stage. The symptoms are felt only when the infection is active and you do not have any symptoms when the infection is not active. However, you can pass onto syphilis to others even without experiencing the symptoms yourself. Some symptoms of syphilis are common to other infections and this is the reason as why many people ignore the initial symptoms associated with this disease.

Primary Stage

One of the most common symptoms that you might experience in this stage is chancre – an open sore that is painless and mostly occurring in areas around your mouth, anus and genitals as this is mostly spread through sexual contact. It can be found anywhere else through which the bacteria entered. These sores tend to disappear within 4 – 6 weeks.

Secondary Stage

You might experience skin rashes after 2 – 12 weeks of acquiring the infection. During this stage, the infection gets easily transferred via mouth, genitals, anus or any other areas where there are rashes.

Latent Stage

As the rashes go away, you might experience a period without any symptoms. This is the time when the bacteria starts damaging your internal organ and might last from 1 year to 5 – 20 years.

Tertiary Stage

If untreated, syphilis can lead to serious health problems and cause blindness, mental disorders, nervous and heart damage and can also become fatal.


See a doctor immediately if you have sores, blisters or rashes on or around your anal or genital area. Your doctor would ask you about your sexual history and would recommend a couple of blood tests and you might also be tested for HIV.

Antibiotics might be recommended to cure this infection. Penicillin is the antibiotic prescribed for the same and the dosage would depend on the stage of syphilis. Doxycycline might also be recommended. In fact, antibiotics can treat this infection at any stage and syphilis is something that you cannot treat on yourself. Thus, visiting the doctor is a must if you are suffering from syphilis. Antibiotics also prevent serious problems arising due to the infection.

Jarish-Herxheimer reaction is common after treatment and is associated with symptoms like fever, chills, headache, nausea, joint and muscle aches and the likes. These symptoms usually go away with 24 hours. Blood tests at 3, 6, 12 and 24 months should be done to ensure that the infection is completely gone.