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Syphilis

Features/Symptoms

  • Primary Syphilis:
    • Lesions form around genital area;
    • Lesion are raised, and form firm red border;
    • Lesions develop a dark pink color;
    • Develop swollen glands;
    • Although lesions generally heal, without treatment the disease will progress.
  • Secondary Syphilis:
    • Once the primary lesions have healed, new symptoms will appear;
    • Secondary lesions normally form on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet;
    • Secondary lesions can also form in other areas;
    • Other symptoms include a sore throat, low-grade fever, headache and a rash;
    • The rash does not itch and is usually not uncomfortable;
    • Without treatment the disease will continue to progress.
  • Latent Syphilis:
    • About 25% of clients may experience a re-occurrence of some of the secondary symptoms;
    • In most cases, the latent stage is asymptomatic;
  • Latent syphilis may stay with clients for life or late syphilis may appear.
  • Late Syphilis:
    • Late syphilis may emerge in any area of the body as late as 30 to 50 years;
    • Late syphilis may take the form of late benign syphilis, cardiovascular syphilis or neurosyphilitic disease

Progression

  • Primary Stage: 1-3 months;
  • Secondary Stage: 3-6 months;
  • Latent Stage: 6 months – 2 years.

Without treatment, syphilis can cause irreversible damage to the brain, nerves, and body tissues.

Causes

Syphilis is a disease caused by the bacteria Treponema pallidum. The bacteria penetrate chafed skin or the mucous membranes. Men are more vulnerable to contracting syphilis than women.

Treatment/Management

Syphilis is easy to cure in its early stages. A single intramuscular injection of penicillin (an antibiotic) will cure a person who has been infected with syphilis for less than a year. Additional doses are needed to treat someone who has been infected with syphilis for longer than a year. For people who are allergic to penicillin, other antibiotics are available to treat syphilis. There are no home remedies or over-the-counter drugs that will cure syphilis. Treatment will kill the syphilis bacterium and prevent further damage, but it will not repair the other physical damage caused.