What are the Symptoms of Syphilis?

Primary Stage -

The appearance of a single sore marks the primary (first) stage of syphilis, but there may be multiple sores. The sore appears at the site of infection and is usually firm, round and painless. It heals on its own within 2-3 weeks.

However, if the infected person does not receive treatment, the infection progresses to the secondary stage.

Secondary Stage -

  • Skin rashes and/or sores (mucous membrane lesions) in the mouth, vagina, or anus - This stage starts with a rash on one or more areas of the body. The rash usually does not itch.
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Generalized weakness
  • Joint pain

Without appropriate treatment, the infection progresses to the tertiary stage of the disease.

Tertiary Stage -

About 15% of affected patients who do not receive adequate treatment develop late stage syphilis. The tertiary stage can appear 1030 years after infection began. Symptoms of the late stage of syphilis include -

  • Damage to the internal organs (brain, nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver, bones and joints). This damage can result in death.
  • Ulcerated lesion anywhere on the skin.
  • Difficulty in coordinating muscle movements
  • Paralysis
  • Gradual blindness
  • Dementia

Symptoms of Congenital Syphilis -

A pregnant woman with syphilis can infect her unborn baby. It can lead to health problems like -

  • Low birth weight
  • Premature delivery
  • Stillbirth (a baby born dead)

An infected baby may be born without any signs or symptoms of the disease. However, if not treated immediately, the baby may develop serious health problems within 2-6 weeks after birth. Untreated babies can have many health problems like -

  • Failure to thrive
  • Skin lesions, discharge and sores
  • Cataracts
  • Deafness
  • Seizures

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