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Syphilis - Symptom, Treatment And Causes

Last Updated: Aug 10, 2021

What is Syphilis?

Syphilis is an STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) caused by Treponema pallidum bacteria. This first sign of this deadly sexually transmitted infection is just a small, painless sore, which people fail to notice right away. This sore, which is medically known as chancre can appear in your rectum, in the sexual organ or even inside the mouth.

What are the stages of syphilis?

There are four stages of syphilis called Primary, secondary, latent and Tertiary syphilis.

  • Primary stage: It occurs 3-4 weeks after contact with the bacteria. The disease starts as a small, round sore called chancre which is painless but highly infectious. This sore/s may appear in the genitals, mouth and or rectum. The sore remains for about 6 weeks.
  • Secondary stage: In this stage, the person may develop with skin rashes and a sore throat. The rashes may be found in the palm, soles and it will not be itchy. Fever, weight loss, fatigue, joints ache, headaches are other symptoms.
  • Latent stage: This is otherwise called a “Hidden Stage”. The symptoms of primary and secondary stages disappear, and no noticeable symptoms can be seen in this stage. However, the bacteria will remain in the body and this stage may prolong for years before it progresses to the tertiary stage.
  • Tertiary stage: This is the final stage of syphilis that can develop after a decade of initial infection. This is the dreadful stage. Memory loss, hearing loss, mental illness, blindness, meningitis, stroke, cardiac disease, and neurosyphilis are the potential outcomes of this stage.

What are the early signs of syphilis?

Syphilis spread through sexual contact and the major culprit for syphilis is a bacterial infection, the name of the bacteria is Treponema pallidum. The disease begins as a painless sore normally in the genitals, rectum. The disease is contagious through the skin or mucus membrane contact with such sores. Based on the stages, syphilis signs and symptoms vary.

  • In the primary stage, the visible, small and painless sores are seen. The lymph nodes can be noted nearby the enlarged groins.
  • In the secondary stage, the person may notice sores in the vagina, anus, mouth, skin rashes, fever, hair loss, weight loss, headache, fatigue, muscle aches.
  • Tertiary syphilis is considered as the most severe stage in which numbness, deafness, dementia, cardiac disease, stroke, brain and spinal membrane infections, aneurysm, and blood vessel inflammation.

The babies may experience bone abnormalities, jaundice, enlarged liver, neurological issues, and nose discharge when affected by syphilis.

How long can syphilis go undetected?

Syphilis is a bacterial infection. After the invasion of the bacteria into the body, it usually takes around three weeks to develop any kind of primary symptoms such as cancer or soreness in the body. That means syphilis can go undetected for an average 10 to 90 days in an individual. However in this stage , the person remains in the infectious stage. The affected person can pass on the infection to other ones during this period, though he himself does not show any symptoms.

Can syphilis go away on its own?

Syphilis is a bacterial infection that is mostly asymptomatic or causes mild symptoms which remain unnoticed. Proper treatment is required for the complete cure of the disease, however, in some cases it is not followed by medication due to the less showing of symptoms. A complete course of antibiotics is imperative otherwise there are more chances of recurrence. Syphilis can’t go away on its own and can lead to serious complications if left untreated.


How syphilis transmitted?

Syphilis is transmitted from individual to individual by direct contact with chancre which is a syphilitic sore. These chancres can create nearby the outside organs, around the butt, in the vagina or in the rectum or in and around the mouth.

During vaginal, anal or oral sex, the syphilis transmission can occur. When a pregnant woman has syphilis, she can transmit the condition to the unborn child. So, it is better to go for an STD screening before getting conceived to avoid transmission to the child.

Does syphilis go away?

Syphilis is a bacterial infection that is asymptomatic in most of the cases. The symptoms are mild and it remains unnoticed. Syphilis usually develops and secretly goes away on its own. The healing process is spontaneous but in order to cure the infection, it is necessary to get medication after a doctor's consultation.

Can you get syphilis without being sexually active?

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease, but it is not necessary to acquire the infection only after the sexual intercourse with an infected individual. The disease can be transmitted to other persons through close contact with the genitals(penis or vulva), mouth or rectum of the affected individual. If rashes or sore are present on the body, it can be passed onto the others. Transmission can also take place from a pregnant lady to her baby.

What are the treatments for syphilis?

Syphilis can be cured soon after early diagnosis. Every one of the stages are treated with anti-microbial penicillin that has the ability to kill the organisms’ that cause syphilis. If the patient is penicillin-allergic, then he/she may be treated with another antibiotic. A single penicillin dose can stop the progression of the disease if provided the patient is affected for less than a year.

If the patient suffers from syphilis for more than a year, he may need to take additional doses. If the condition left untreated, then it can damage the liver, heart, brain and nervous system. Syphilis can also lead to blindness and paralysis. It builds the opportunity of spreading HIV. This is deadly whenever left untreated.

Is syphilis 100% curable?

Syphilis can be cured easily with the proper and adequate treatment. In case it is left untreated, it can lead to serious complications. The treatment plan includes the application of the preferred antibiotics under a proper consultation with the doctor. The course of the antibiotic should be completed in order to treat the infection effectively.

What are the complications of syphilis?

As we already discussed, syphilis can damage the entire body if not treated. It also escalates the risk of HIV infection and might cause problems during pregnancy in women. Though treatments help in preventing future damage, the reversing of damage is not possible.

What are the ways for the prevention of syphilis?

Rehearsing safe sex is the most ideal method for avoiding syphilis. Using condoms during sexual play and additionally using a dental dam or condoms during oral sex, avoid sharing sex toys, go for STIs screening and sharing the results with your partner/s, avoiding needle sharing will help in preventing from syphilis.

It is better to avoid vaginal, anal and oral sex who is affected by syphilis. Using protective measures will lower the chances of getting an STD. Do get regular STD screens done is another way of preventing your health from syphilis. Using a single condom for every single sex will save you hugely from syphilis.

What are the home remedies for syphilis?

  • Tea tree oil: This is an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agent and the topical use of tea tree oil ease the pain associated with syphilis. Dilute the oil with almond oil or water and apply it on the infected area to see the best results.
  • Yogurt: Continue taking supplements with less processed foods and using lots of fresh foods to boost immunity and cut inflammation. Toxins can be flushed out by drinking enough water. Lactobacillus strains of Probiotics are good bacteria that boost immunity health. It prevents fungal, yeast and UTI infections.
  • Aloe Vera: This antibacterial and anti-inflammatory herb helps in hydrating skin and healing wounds. It also boosts up immunity and it is advised to take both gels for topical application and juice for drink. Aloe Vera helps to a greater extent in treating wounds and sores, scars cause.

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Written ByDr. Ajay Kumar Bachelor of Ayurveda, Medicine and Surgery (BAMS)Sexology
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