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Symptoms of Syphilis

Symptoms of Syphilis: Introduction

Syphilis is an infection that can stay in the body for years if not recognized and treated promptly. There are three stages of syphilis, and each stage of syphilis has distinct symptoms.

The first stage (primary syphilis) is characterized by the development of a painless lesion called a chancre. The chancre usually develops in the genital area. It can also develop on the lips, tongue or rectum if these areas have been exposed to a syphilis chancre on another person during oral or anal sexual contact. The chancre can appear at any time from 10 days to three months after exposure. The chancre heals in one to five weeks.

If left untreated, syphilis will progress into a second stage called secondary syphilis. In this stage the bacteria that causes syphilis spread throughout the body and cause additional symptoms. Symptoms begin to appear after about six weeks after the chancre has resolved and include flu-like symptoms. These include sore throat, fever, weight loss, fatigue, swollen glands and headache. Other symptoms include patchy hair loss, skin rashes, and a rash around the rectum. These rashes do not itch and exposure to these rashes can transmit syphilis to others.

If left untreated, the syphilis infection continues even though there may not be symptoms for as many as 20 years. The third stage of syphilis called tertiary syphilis can lead to serious complications. Complications include dementia, paralysis, blindness, aortic aneurysm and death. Syphilis can also increase the risk of HIV infection, which causes AIDS....more about Syphilis »

Symptoms of Syphilis

The list of signs and symptoms mentioned in various sources for Syphilis includes the 103 symptoms listed below:

Research symptoms & diagnosis of Syphilis:

Syphilis: Symptom Checkers

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Syphilis: Symptom Assessment Questionnaires

Review the available Assessment Questionnaires for the symptoms of Syphilis:

Syphilis: Complications

Review medical complications possibly associated with Syphilis:

Diagnostic Testing

Diagnostic testing of medical conditions related to Syphilis:

  • Swab of chancre - in primary and secondary syphilis phases
  • Swab/scraping test
  • Syphilis blood tests
  • VDRL (Venereal Disease Research Laboratory) test
  • RPR (rapid plasma reagin) test
  • more tests...»

Research More About Syphilis

Do I have Syphilis?

Syphilis: Medical Mistakes

Syphilis: Undiagnosed Conditions

Diseases that may be commonly undiagnosed in related medical areas:

Home Diagnostic Testing

Home medical tests related to Syphilis:

Wrongly Diagnosed with Syphilis?

The list of other diseases or medical conditions that may be on the differential diagnosis list of alternative diagnoses for Syphilis includes:

Syphilis: Research Doctors & Specialists

Research all specialists including ratings, affiliations, and sanctions.

More about symptoms of Syphilis:

More information about symptoms of Syphilis and related conditions:

Other Possible Causes of these Symptoms

Click on any of the symptoms below to see a full list of other causes including diseases, medical conditions, toxins, drug interactions, or drug side effect causes of that symptom.

Article Excerpts About Symptoms of Syphilis:

Sexually Transmitted Diseases, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID (Excerpt)

The first symptoms of syphilis may go undetected because they are very mild and disappear spontaneously. The initial symptom is a chancre; it is usually a painless open sore that usually appears on the penis or around or in the vagina. It can also occur near the mouth, anus, or on the hands. If untreated, syphilis may go on to more advanced stages, including a transient rash and, eventually, serious involvement of the heart and central nervous system. The full course of the disease can take years. Penicillin remains the most effective drug to treat people with syphilis. (Source: excerpt from Sexually Transmitted Diseases, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID)

Syphilis, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID (Excerpt)

The initial infection causes an ulcer at the site of infection; however, the bacteria move throughout the body, damaging many organs over time. Medical experts describe the course of the disease by dividing it into four stages primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary (late). An infected person who has not been treated may infect others during the first two stages, which usually last one to two years. In its late stages, untreated syphilis, although not contagious, can cause serious heart abnormalities, mental disorders, blindness, other neurologic problems, and death. (Source: excerpt from Syphilis, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID)

Syphilis, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID (Excerpt)

The first symptom of primary syphilis is an ulcer called a chancre ("shan-ker"). The chancre can appear within 10 days to three months after exposure, but it generally appears within two to six weeks. Because the chancre may be painless and may occur inside the body, it may go unnoticed. It usually is found on the part of the body exposed to the partners ulcer, such as the penis, the vulva, or the vagina. A chancre also can develop on the cervix, tongue, lips, or other parts of the body. The chancre disappears within a few weeks whether or not a person is treated. If not treated during the primary stage, about one-third of people will progress to chronic stages.

Secondary syphilis is often marked by a skin rash that is characterized by brown sores about the size of a penny. The rash appears anywhere from three to six weeks after the chancre appears. While the rash may cover the whole body or appear only in a few areas, the palms of the hands and soles of the feet are almost always involved. Because active bacteria are present in these sores, any physical contact sexual or nonsexual with the broken skin of an infected person may spread the infection at this stage. The rash usually heals within several weeks or months. Other symptoms also may occur, such as mild fever, fatigue, headache, sore throat, as well as patchy hair loss, and swollen lymph glands throughout the body. These symptoms may be very mild and, like the chancre of primary syphilis, will disappear without treatment. The signs of secondary syphilis may come and go over the next one to two years.

If untreated, syphilis may lapse into a latent stage during which the disease is no longer contagious and no symptoms are present. Many people who are not treated will suffer no further consequences of the disease. Approximately one-third of those who have secondary syphilis, however, go on to develop the complications of late, or tertiary, syphilis, in which the bacteria damage the heart, eyes, brain, nervous system, bones, joints, or almost any other part of the body. This stage can last for years, or even for decades. Late syphilis, the final stage, can result in mental illness, blindness, other neurologic problems, heart disease, and death. (Source: excerpt from Syphilis, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID)

Syphilis: NWHIC (Excerpt)

The first symptom of primary syphilis is a sore called a chancre ("shan-ker"), which can appear within 10 days to 3 months after exposure. Chancres usually develop on the part of the body exposed to the bacteria, such as the penis, the vulva, or the vagina, as well as the cervix, tongue, lips, or other parts of the body. Because the chancre is ordinarily painless and sometimes occurs inside the body, it may go unnoticed. The next stage of syphilis is marked by a skin rash that appears anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks after the chancre appears, sometimes accompanied by symptoms like mild fever, fatigue, headache, sore throat, as well as patchy hair loss, and swollen lymph glands throughout the body. (Source: excerpt from Syphilis: NWHIC)

Syphilis as a Cause of Symptoms or Medical Conditions

When considering symptoms of Syphilis, it is also important to consider Syphilis as a possible cause of other medical conditions. The Disease Database lists the following medical conditions that Syphilis may cause:

- (Source - Diseases Database)

Syphilis: Onset and Incubation

Incubation period for Syphilis: 10 days to 3 months

Medical articles and books on symptoms:

These general reference articles may be of interest in relation to medical signs and symptoms of disease in general:

About signs and symptoms of Syphilis:

The symptom information on this page attempts to provide a list of some possible signs and symptoms of Syphilis. This signs and symptoms information for Syphilis has been gathered from various sources, may not be fully accurate, and may not be the full list of Syphilis signs or Syphilis symptoms. Furthermore, signs and symptoms of Syphilis may vary on an individual basis for each patient. Only your doctor can provide adequate diagnosis of any signs or symptoms and whether they are indeed Syphilis symptoms.


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