What Is Syphilis?

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the Treponema pallidum bacterium. These pathogens usually enter the body through the tissues that line the rectum, vagina or nose. If not treated quickly, it could get worse over time and causes other medical issues. There are four stages in syphilis Primary, Secondary, Latent and Tertiary.

Stages of Syphilis

Primary syphilis

One of the first signs occur about three to four weeks after infection, it begins as painless open sores called “Chancre” it is often found in the mouth, anus or the genitals. Normally caused by direct contact with an infected person (Sexual activity)

Secondary syphilis

At this stage, sore throat, skin rashes start appearing and the rashes are normally found on the palms or soles or any part of the body. Symptoms include headaches, swollen lymph glands, fatigue, fever, hair loss, aching joints.

Latent syphilis

After the rashes disappear there will be a period where there are no symptoms this is called “hidden stage”. Even if the symptoms go away, the syphilis infection is still present and start damaging the inner organs. This stage may last up to 5-20 years.

Tertiary syphilis

Tertiary syphilis could occur years after you are initially infected as this could be life-threatening and could cause serious health problems like Blindness, deafness, mental illness, memory loss, destruction of soft tissue, heart diseases, etc.

Causes of Syphilis

Syphilis could be caused by

  1. Having HIV.
  2. Having unsafe sex or unprotected sex (Not using condoms)
  3. Having sex with partners who have many sex partners.
  4. Having a sex partner who is infected by the syphilis bacteria.

Symptoms of Syphilis

Signs and symptoms vary from men to women. The general symptoms of this bacterial infectious disease include:

  • Fever.
  • Pain during sex.
  • Lower abdominal pain.
  • Rashes over the trunk, hands or feet.
  • Painful or burning urination.
  • Discharge from the penis.
  • Unusual vaginal bleeding.
  • Sores or bumps on the genitals or in the oral or rectal area.

Diagnosis of Syphilis

Syphilis can be diagnosed by certain laboratory tests. These tests include an examination of a body fluid sample :

  1. Blood tests: Blood samples can confirm the diagnosis or the presence of HIV or the stages of syphilis.
  2. Urine samples. Some sexually transmitted diseases can be confirmed with a urine sample.
  3. Genital sores: Testing fluid and samples from the sores may be done to diagnose the types of sexually transmitted infections.

Treatment for Syphilis

Syphilis is generally easier to treat. Treatment usually consists of Antibiotics or Antiviral drugs. Primary and secondary syphilis could be easily treated with a penicillin injection. Penicillin is one of the widely used antibiotics and is very effective in treating syphilis.

Stay tuned with BYJU’S to learn more in detail about the Syphilis and different types of sexually transmitted infections.


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    Byju’s app is very helpful in learning.

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