Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). The infectious agent responsible is Treponema pallidum, a type of bacterium. Anyone who comes into direct contact with the bacteria via an open sore, typically during sexual contact, can become infected. Syphilis symptoms can be broken down into four stages; in the first two stages, the disease is most contagious. In the later stages it is not as easy to pass on but this is when it causes the most damage to your body.
Syphilis symptoms are wide ranging, and many of them imitate other diseases. It’s also possible that you may not experience any syphilis symptoms at all, or you may only notice some of them. Even if you don’t display any syphilis symptoms, this doesn’t mean that your infection is not contagious and won’t progress to later stages. If you experience any of the syphilis symptoms outlined in the four stages below, or you think you may have been in close and intimate contact with someone who has syphilis, you should visit your doctor without delay.
This article on syphilis symptoms is by Kathryn Senior, a freelance journalist who writes health, medical, biological, and pharmaceutical articles for national and international journals, newsletters and web sites.
Primary stage syphilis symptoms
One of the first primary syphilis symptoms is an open sore or ulcer, known as a chancre that can appear on the cervix, genitals, tongue, lips, fingertips or throat. This sore can appear anywhere from 10 and 90 days after infection but usually appears around three weeks afterwards. The chancre may also appear inside the body and may not cause any pain, so you may not notice it at all.
Although the sore usually heals in a few weeks, this doesn’t mean you’re no longer infectious and so you should still seek treatment even if it heals on its own. In addition to a chancre, another one of the most common primary syphilis symptoms is enlarged lymph nodes in your groin. If you don’t seek treatment during this primary stage of the disease, there is around a 30% chance that it will progress to the secondary stage.