STD: Syphilis Symptoms and Stages
Syphilis: Corkscrew Bugs Causing Serious Health Conditions…
Syphilis is one of the more serious STDs that needs early diagnosis and treatment. Transmitted during sexual activity, it is caused by the spirochete (corkscrew formed) bacterium Treponema pallidum. If it is not diagnosed and appropriately treated, it may cause serious health conditions and even death.
Syphilis is transmitted from person to person by direct contact with syphilis sores. First symptoms usually appear 21 days (3 weeks) after infection (it can range somewhere between 10 and 90 days from infection to the appearance of first signs and syphilis symptoms). Sores occur mainly on the external genitals, vagina, anus, or in the rectum. Sores also can occur on the lips and in the mouth. Syphilis can be transmitted during vaginal, anal, or oral sexual contact. Pregnant women with the disease can pass it to their unborn children. The CDC estimates the yearly new infection rate to be more than 55,000 in the US.
Quick Facts: Three Stages of Syphilis
Single or multiple sores and symptoms appear
- Sores appear at the are where syphilis has entered the body
- Sore: firm, round, painless – it can remain undetected for quite a while due to absence of pain
- Sores heal 3 to 6 weeks after appearance and regardless of treated or not
- If treated, syphilis is healed
- If left untreated, it progresses to second stage
Skin rashes and/or sores in the mouth, vagina, or anus (also called mucous membrane lesions )
- Starts with a rash on one or more areas of the body
- Rash is usually not itchy
- Secondary syphilis rash can appear from the time when the primary sore is healing to several weeks after the sore has healed
- Secondary syphilis rash: rough, red, or reddish brown spots both on the palms of the hands and/or the bottoms of the fee large, raised, gray or white lesions in warm, moist areas such as the mouth, underarm or groin region
- Other symptoms of secondary syphilis: fever, swollen lymph glands, sore throat, patchy hair loss, headaches, weight loss, muscle aches and fatigue
- Symptoms of secondary syphilis will go away with or without treatment
- Without appropriate treatment, it will progress to the latent and possibly late stages of disease
Late and Latent Stages
- Latent (hidden) stage begins when primary and secondary symptoms disappear
- Latent stage can last for years: without treatment, the infected person can continue to have syphilis in their body even though there are no signs or symptoms
- 10 to 30 years after infection: 15% of people not treated develop late stage syphilis
- Late stages of syphilis damages the internal organs, including the brain, nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver, bones, and joints; this damage can result in death.
- Symptoms of the late stage of syphilis: difficulty coordinating muscle movements, paralysis, numbness, gradual blindness, and dementia .
We will discuss about Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment in the next post.