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Syphilis - Topic Overview

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If you have sores, bumps, a rash, blisters, or warts on or around your genital or anal area, or if you think you were exposed to an STI, see your doctor.

He or she will do a physical exam and will ask you about your symptoms and your sexual history. You will probably have one or more blood tests to check for the infection. Because the open sores from syphilis make HIV infection more likely, you may also be tested for HIV.

To prevent babies from getting syphilis, experts recommend that all pregnant women have a syphilis blood test.

Syphilis can be cured with antibiotics. Both you and any sex partners that you may have exposed to the infection will need to be treated.

It is important to know that syphilis is not a infection that you can treat on your own. It must be treated with medicine that only your doctor can give you. With treatment, you avoid other serious health problems. And treatment keeps you from spreading syphilis to others.

If a woman is pregnant and has untreated syphilis, it can cause miscarriage or stillbirth. It can also cause the baby to be born with the infection. This is called congenital syphilis.

At any stage of the infection, antibiotics work well to cure syphilis. They can't undo the damage already caused by late-stage syphilis. But they can help you avoid further problems from the infection.

There are some things you can do to lower your risk for getting syphilis. Whether you have never had the infection or if you have had it before and are trying to keep from getting it again, it is important to practice safer sex. Safer sex includes using condoms and using them correctly.

Learning about syphilis:

Being diagnosed:

Getting treatment:

Ongoing concerns:

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 08, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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