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What Are The Symptoms of Syphilis?

Can you recognize the common symptoms of syphilis? It is one of the most widespread sexually transmitted infections (STI) in the United States. In fact, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the infection rate across the country is even more rampant than we initially suspected.

Syphilis is an infection that spreads primarily through vaginal, anal or oral sex. Since any sexually active person can get the infection, we should all get tested often and regularly.

To shed a bit more light on this STI, let’s take a closer look at the major stages and symptoms of syphilis.

Symptoms of Syphilis: Knowing What To Look For

Like many sexually transmitted infections, syphilis can be difficult to detect. To complicate matters, it is also quite contagious. This combo means that those who have it are often completely unaware of their condition. This results in even more infections because these unknowing carriers then spread it to their partners.

Even babies aren’t always safe. A pregnant woman can also pass this infection on to her unborn child. When that baby is born, it is possible that it will suffer from a number of complications, ranging from a simple rash and teeth deformities to deafness or the collapse of the nasal bone.

The only way to know for sure whether or not you are infected is to get a lab-certified blood test, like one of myLAB Box’s at-home STD tests.

The Stages of Syphilis

Even if you are looking directly at them, it can be tough to notice any symptoms during the initial phase of a syphilis infection. The infection may manifest as a painless sore that resembles a mild case of acne or even as an ingrown hair. It’s also possible that syphilis won’t show any symptoms at all for many years.

It takes a trained eye to recognize any of these early bumps or sores, so everyone should be regularly tested to be absolutely sure of their status. If left untreated, a case of syphilis could eventually develop into serious long-term health problems. These issues may include arthritis, blindness and brain damage. If left long enough, it can even be fatal.

Here are the stages of these symptoms:

Symptoms of Syphilis in the Primary Stage

  • During the first three weeks after initial exposure to the bacteria, small, painless, firm sores may appear. This is the location where the syphilis entered your body.

These sores often subside within three-to-six weeks, but this does not mean that the infection has been cleared from your body. Treatment is required to prevent the disease from progressing to the next phase.

Symptoms of Syphilis in the Secondary Stage
  • A red rash may appear. Though not typically itchy, it can spread throughout the entire body, including the hands and feet.
  • Skin rashes and/or sores in the mouth, vagina, or anus (also called mucous membrane lesions)
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Sore throat
  • Patchy hair loss
  • Headaches
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue

As with the “Primary Stage,” these syphilis symptoms will vanish within a few weeks. This does not mean that the infection clearing up. It is simply progressing toward Latent Syphilis.

Symptoms of Syphilis in the Third Stage. (AKA: “Latent Syphilis”)
  • Possibly none at all!

This phase can last several years and may not show any visible symptoms. Instead, the infection will develop into “Late Stage” syphilis.

Late Stage Symptoms of Syphilis (or Tertiary Syphilis)
  • Loss of muscle control and coordination
  • Numbness
  • Paralysis
  • Blindness
  • Dementia
  • Death is a possible outcome due to widespread damage to the heart, liver, bones, and joints

Approximately 15 to 30 percent of untreated syphilis cases progress this far. It can occur anytime between 10 and 30 years following the initial onset of the infection.

How To Fight Back

Fortunately, syphilis is relatively easy to cure. Treatment may vary based on how far the disease has progressed, but a simple prescription of penicillin should clear the infection. This is, of course, only true if you are properly screened and diagnosed.

A regular schedule of STI testing is critical to your sexual health. If not detected, a syphilis infection can become a potentially life-changing problem. Early detection is imperative, since no amount of treatment can reverse any of the bodily damage that a long-standing infection may have caused.

myLAB Box offers many at-home STD test packages for the most common sexually transmitted infections, including syphilis. But a single negative syphilis test does not mean that you’re completely in the clear. Early detection and treatment is key to total health and safety since long-term exposure to the disease can cause life-threatening consequences. 

Recognizing syphilis symptoms is important, but screening is essential. It should be repeated in regular intervals throughout the year.

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