Syphilis – Symptoms and Treatment

Syphilis is an STD or a sexually transmitted disease that is easy to cure with the proper treatment, but could give serious health conditions when it is untreated.

Syphilis can be transmitted when there is direct contact with a syphilis chancre during oral, vaginal, and anal sex. The chancres can grow in the mouth, penis, lips, vagina, rectum, and anus. A pregnant woman infected with syphilis can also pass the infection to her baby.


Syphilis has three stages and they are:

Primary stage

The appearance of a single sore or multiple sores is the first symptom in the primary stage of syphilis. The chancre or sore will be located on the spot where the bacteria first gained entry to the body. The chancre is painless, round in shape, and firm in texture. The sores are barely noticeable as it is not painful. After 3-6 weeks, the sores disappear regardless if it received treatment or not.

Secondary stage

Sores or rashes will appear during the secondary stage of the infection. The rash will not be itchy even when it looks red which may eventually cover your whole body including the soles of your feet and the palms of your hand. There are infected people who will only have faint rashes that are barely noticeable. Other symptoms accompanying the rash will be fatigue, fever, muscle pains, swollen lymph glands, patchy hair loss, weight loss, sore throat, and headaches. Whether the treatment will be done on this stage, the symptoms will disappear, but the infection will progress to the latent and late stage if treatment will not be done.

Latent and Late stage

The latent stage is the stage where there will be no symptoms. The syphilis infection stays in the body and some infected people do not acquire late-stage syphilis even without treatment. However, when it does, the damage to the body will be severe and life-threatening. Symptoms of late syphilis include a mental disorder called dementia, difficulty in muscle coordination, blindness, numbness, and death.

Less than a year or a year of infection could still be termed as an early case which covers the primary and secondary stages of syphilis. The first and second stages are the most contagious stage where infected people could easily transmit the infection to other uninfected people. The bulk of early syphilis cases are usually found in the group of men having sexual relations with men. Another risk group are pregnant women who have been infected or are already infected with syphilis as the disease can be passed on to the fetus which could give serious health conditions to a baby born with congenital syphilis.


Treatment for syphilis can cure the disease with the right antibiotics and proper adherence to the treatment course. However, it should be noted that any damage that has been done to the body by the infection will be irreversible.

If you have been cured of syphilis, it will not mean that you have developed immunity to the infection. You will still become infected when you have unprotected sex with an infected sex partner.