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Sexual Conditions Health Center

Syphilis - When To Call a Doctor

Call to make an appointment if you:

  • Have sores, bumps, rashes, blisters, or warts on or around the genital or anal area or on any area of the body where you think they could be caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
  • Think you have been exposed to a STI.

In most areas, public health clinics or health departments are able to diagnose and provide low-cost assessment and treatment of early syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

For more information about symptoms of other sexually transmitted infections, see the topic Exposure to Sexually Transmitted Infections.

Watchful waiting

Watchful waiting, which means taking a wait-and-see approach, is not appropriate if you think you were exposed to or have syphilis or another sexually transmitted infection (STI). Any symptoms or other changes that suggest syphilis or another STI should be evaluated by a doctor. If you suspect a syphilis infection:

  • Make an appointment with your doctor. Early treatment can reduce the complications of syphilis and prevent the spread of the infection to others.
  • Do not have sexual intercourse or other sexual contact until you have been treated by a doctor.

If you are diagnosed with syphilis, your sex partner(s) will need to be treated also.

All states require doctors to report newly diagnosed cases of syphilis (all stages) to health authorities.

Who to see

Your primary doctor can diagnose and treat syphilis.

Health professionals who can diagnose and treat sexually transmitted infections (STIs) include:

Complications of secondary or later stage syphilis may require treatment by an infectious disease specialist.


In most areas, public health clinics or county health departments are able to diagnose and provide low-cost or free treatment of early syphilis and other STIs.

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.


WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
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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