There are three stages of syphilis. Call your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:
In the first (primary) stage, which usually starts about three weeks after exposure, a painless sore called a chancre appears on the genitals, rectum, anus, or mouth. Lymph glands near the chancre may be swollen as well. The chancre lasts three to six weeks and will heal on its own. This does not mean that you are cured. Left untreated, the disease may progress to the second stage.
In the second (secondary) stage, which occurs weeks to a few months later, a non-itchy red or reddish-brown spotty rash may appear anywhere on the body (often on the palms of the hands and bottoms of the feet). You may have symptoms, such as headache, fever, fatigue, sore throat, muscle aches, swollen lymph glands, patchy hair loss, loss of appetite, weight loss, and pain in bones and joints (all of which could be symptoms of other diseases, as well). Symptoms may then disappear, but without treatment the bacteria remain in the body.
In the third (late) stage, which can start anytime from one year to several decades later, joints may be affected, resulting in arthritis. The infection also can affect other specific parts of the body, including the brain, nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, bones, and liver. Up to 40% of people that have not been treated will develop late stage syphilis. This can result in cardiovascular syphilis and neurosyphilis.
Syphilis (pronounced siff-eh-lis) is a bacterial infection that is sexually transmitted. It progresses in distinct stages. The disease is curable and progression is preventable if syphilis is caught early and treated. But if it isn't treated, it can cause serious damage to the cardiovascular system and brain and lead to blindness and nerve problems.
Syphilis is often called "the great imitator," because its signs and symptoms are indistinguishable from those of other diseases.
Cardiovascular syphilis can appear 10-30 years after the initial infection, causing damage to the heart and blood vessels.
Neurosyphilis can occur in the nerves and may cause paralysis, blindness, dementia, psychiatric problems, or loss of sensation in the legs.
Without treatment, syphilis can be life-threatening. It is extremely important to treat it before it progresses to a later disease stage. Treatment should be taken even if there are no current symptoms.
Call Your Doctor If:
You see the characteristic chancre sores or rash of syphilis