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How to diagnose and treat syphilis

How to diagnose and treat syphilis

Do you have painless sores, blisters, or ulcers on your penis, vagina, and anus, or inside your mouth, or on the lips?

You could have syphilis, a sexually transmitted infection is caused by a type of bacteria. The infection usually starts as a sore in or on the genitals, anus, or mouth. It then leads to a painful skin rash and can lead to damaged organs, if not treated. With the right treatment, though, you can get this infection sorted.

Syphilis happens in primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary stages:

Primary syphilis

During this stage, you develop a sore that’s usually painless. This often happens within three weeks of getting the bacteria. At this point, you are very contagious.

For men, the painless sore often appears in the genital area, but not always on the penis.

For women, the sore develops on the outer genitals or on the inner part of the vagina. You may not notice the sore if it grows inside the vagina or at the opening to the uterus (cervix).

Secondary syphilis

The secondary stage involves a skin rash and sore throat, which means that the bacteria from the sore has spread to the bloodstream. The rash usually doesn’t itch and can be found on the palms and soles. Some people don’t notice the rash.

Other symptoms include:

  • Swollen lymph nodes (small glands all around your body that are part of your immune system)
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Aching joints
  • Weight loss
  • Hair loss

Latent syphilis

The third stage of syphilis is usually referred to as the hidden stage. While the primary and secondary symptoms of syphilis show no noticeable symptoms, at this stage, the bacteria remain in the body. This third stage could last for years before developing into the fourth stage, called tertiary syphilis.

Tertiary syphilis

This is the last stage of the infection. While this stage is rare, it has the most severe complications. It can affect different organs, like the brain, heart, spinal cord, liver, bones, and joints, which could result in death.

This last stage is life-threatening and can develop years after the initial infection. Some other complications of tertiary syphilis include:

  • Neurosyphilis, an infection of the brain or spinal cord
  • Mental illness
  • Memory loss
  • Blindness
  • Deafness
  • Destruction of soft tissue and bone
  • Neurological disorders, like stroke or meningitis
  • Heart disease

Risk factors

  • Having sex with multiple partners.
  • Having unprotected sex.
  • Being infected with HIV; the virus that causes AIDS.


Syphilis can be cleared with antibiotics. Blood tests can determine whether you’ve been infected with syphilis or not. If left untreated, it could increase the risk of HIV and infertility. If you’re sexually active, it’s best to get tested every six months and between new partners for all types of STIs.


  • Always use a condom when you have sex; this helps minimize your risk for syphilis.
  • If you’re having sex with multiple partners, it’s important to use condoms and have regular STI tests.
  • Discuss your sexual health with your partner and know each other’s sexual health status.
  • Consult best sexologist in Delhi if you are suspecting syphilis

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