Symptoms Of Syphilis

Syphilis is caused by bacteria and is not as common as some of the other STIs – however, it has recently made it back on the radar.

The symptoms are usually mild which means some people ignore them.

Syphilis comes in 3 stages:

Stage 1: Primary Syphilis

This can appear 2 to 4 weeks after exposure but it can be sooner or later. The first stage is usually a small painless sore called ‘chancre’. This will usually appear where the infection entered the body (genitals), and sometimes it can appear on the lips, tonsils, hands or bum.

This chancre is painless but extremely infectious, it usually heals and disappears after 2-6 weeks.

Stage 2: Secondary Syphilis

If the chancre is left untreated the bacteria can spread and become secondary syphilis. Symptoms may include:

  • A non-itchy rash, often on the feet.
  • Small flat growths (look like warts) around the vagina or anus.
  • Flu-like symptoms.
  • Weight & hair loss.
  • White patches on the tongue or roof of the mouth.

These can come and go over weeks and months. Once these have disappeared you move into the hidden stage, which can last for years.

Stage 3: Tertiary Stage

If the syphilis is left untreated it will move onto the most dangerous stage. This stage can begin even decades after the first infection, symptoms can include:

  • Rashes
  • Numbness
  • Paralysis
  • Loss of coordination
  • Blindness 
  • Deafness
  • Stroke
  • Dementia
  • Heart Disease

By this point, syphilis is dangerous enough to cause death.

Causes Of Syphilis

Did you know? Untreated syphilis can be passed on for up to two years after the infection.

You CANNOT catch Chlamydia from kissing, hugging, sharing towels, swimming pools, toilet seats etc.

It CAN, however, be spread through:

  • From mother to baby. (can be treated during pregnancy).
  • Unprotected sex (vaginal, oral & anal).
  • Genitals touching.
  • Sharing your toys without washing between uses.
  • Sharing Needles

Treatments Of Syphilis

Once you have been tested for Syphilis (examination, swab & blood test) and it comes back positive you will be given antibiotics to treat this.

It will usually be a single injection or a cause of injections.

This treatment is very effective for first and second-stage syphilis and should cure it. Syphilis can also be treated and cured in the third stage but it cannot reverse any damage that the Syphilis has already done to your body.

You shouldn’t have any type of sex until you gave been given the all-clear.

Some clinics offer an anonymous text service in case you don’t feel comfortable telling your partner(s). Remember to not play the blame game.

⚡ I am not a health professional. I am qualified in RSE but I am not a doctor. Content for this page has been drawn from the NHS website and Please head over to these great sites for more details.

Reading next

STI Window Periods