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The symptoms of syphilis can take many different forms depending on the stage of the disease. The first symptoms of syphilis are papules and a rash that can be mistaken for an allergy or cold sores. Untreated syphilis becomes late stage and often damages the nervous and cardiovascular systems. How do you recognize the symptoms of syphilis?

Symptoms of syphilisappear about 3 weeks after infection. You can catch syphilis through vaginal, anal and even oral intercourse. Syphilis can also be infected by kissing when a person has syphilitic lesions in the mouth.

The first symptoms of syphiliscan confuse and lull you into vigilance, especially as they are not always bookish. Therefore, any changes in the genital area and strange spots, for example on the finger or nipple, should prompt you to see a doctor. Especially when we've had random sex.

Syphilis - pathways of infection

Syphilis(syphilis) belongs to systemic sexually transmitted diseases. It is caused by bacteria - a pale spirochete, which enters the body through damaged skin or undamaged mucous membranes. It multiplies at the site of infection and spreads with blood and lymph.

The easiest way to get syphilis is through direct contact with infected secretions (discharge from ulcers, blood) during sexual intercourse, a kiss. In the early phase of syphilis, the patient is infected also in asymptomatic periods (when there are no changes in the skin). But daily contact with an infected person is not a threat. We won't get infected in a swimming pool by drinking from the same cup, by shaking hands or using the same toilet, even if someone has a cough or sneezes, because the spirochete is not transmitted by droplets. You can touch common equipment, door handles, headphones.

Symptoms of early syphilis

There are two basic stages of syphilis - early and late, which follow one another.Syphilisearly lasts up to 2 years after infection. It is divided into two phases: period I (primary) syphilis and period II (secondary) syphilis. Different symptoms are characteristic for both periods of the disease.

Symptoms of early primary syphilis

  • A painless round lump on the skin that turns into a hard ulcer;
  • Enlarged lymph nodes.

Symptoms of early secondary syphilis

  • Non-itchy pale pink rash in the form of spots, less often papules (syphilitic rash);
  • Gray and white wet lesions called squamous condylomas - they are very contagious;
  • Enlargement of lymph nodes;
  • Sore throat;
  • Fever;
  • Lack of appetite;
  • Losing weight;
  • Irritation or even meningitis.

Syphilisearly is the most contagious period of the disease. After 2 years, its infectivity is gradually decreasing.

The first symptom of primary syphilis is the appearance of a painless round lump on the skin near the entry of pale spirochete bacteria. The papule may appear between 9 and 90 days after infection (usually 3 weeks). In heterosexual men it is located on the penis, around the anus, mouth, and in women on the labia and cervix. It can also appear in unusual places: on the finger, on the nipple or on the oral mucosa.

The bloom is accompanied by a painless enlargement of the lymph nodes. Over time, it takes the form of an ulcer and has the professional name of the primary lesion. Due to its hard, cartilage-like texture, it is also called a hard ulcer. It lasts for about 2-6 weeks, it can be very small and resemble herpes (vesicles with serum, then lumps and crusts).

The primary change resolves spontaneously without treatment, usually after 3 weeks. Since it is painless, you may not notice it at all. It is estimated that only 20% of syphilis appear as a typical primary lesion. When a disease is suspected, each lesion must be differentiated from the herpes virus, soft ulcer or infected skin injuries.

The second stage of early syphilis -syphilissecondary - begins 9-15 weeks after infection, most often when the ulcer has completely disappeared (in 15% of cases it may still persist). On the skin and mucous membranes (usually feet, hands, head) a non-itchy rash appears in the form of spots, less often papules. The lesions are pale red or pink in color and are 5-10 mm in size. They are the so-called syphilitic rash. In 1/4 of patients the rash is of low intensity, which may make it difficult to see.

In addition, in wet areas, in women under the breasts and around the vulva, in men around the anus and scrotum, in both sexes, gray-white wet lesions called squamous condylomas can appear on the inner surface of the thighs and around the anus. They are very contagious.

Skin symptoms may be accompanied by: enlarged lymph nodes, sore throat, fever, lack of appetite, weight loss, and even irritation or even meningitis. If treatment is not started at this stage,syphilisbecomeslate form, often latent.

Read also: Trichomoniasis - symptoms of infection, treatment, complications

Worth knowing

Latent syphilis shows no symptoms

Latent syphilis is the period when the symptoms of the infection are not visible. It may concern both the early stage of the disease (up to 2 years after infection) and the late stage. There are no ulcerations, rashes, nervous system ailments, etc. During this time, the pale spirochetes that cause the infection continue to ravage the body. The only way to detect latent syphilis is to do a blood test.

After several years of infection, if no treatment was initiated,syphilisgoes into the late phase. Its course is often latent and initially asymptomatic. However, the spirochete bacterium attacks internal organs and impairs their functioning. This phase of the disease is the most dangerous, it can last for years and gradually devastate the body. It usually involves the nervous system and the cardiovascular system.

Read also: 15 sexually transmitted diseases

Symptoms of nervous system syphilis

Up to about 7 years after infection, the most commonsyphilisnervous system affects the brain and spinal cord. It leads to syphilitic meningitis, stroke, neurological changes, personality changes, and mental illness.

The late stage of syphilis can last up to 30 years after infection. Untreated disease leads to death.

Worth knowing

Symptoms of cardiovascular syphilis

In the late stagesyphiliscan also attack the cardiovascular system - usually 10-12 years after infection. This is because the bacteria are taking over the vessels that nourish the walls of the arteries. As a result of this process, the aortic valves are damaged, arteries weaken and relax, and the openings of blood vessels narrow. As a result,syphiliscardiovascular disease can cause diseases such as: main arteritis, myocardial clumps, diffuse syphilitic myocarditis, aortic aneurysm, inflammation of the cerebral arteries.

Skin symptoms of late syphilis

Latesyphilisalso causes changes to the skin and internal organs. They can come in two forms: nodular syphilis and killiomas.

Syphilisnodular amoeba begins with the appearance of a pea-sized nodule, maximum the size of a plum. The lesion is tough to the touch and has a reddish-brown color. Over time, it disintegrates, leaving an ulcer with new lumps forming around the perimeter. They spread in a circular amoeboid, while in the middlethe ulcer heals, leaving a smooth scar. New foci of inflammation are painless, develop for months or even years, and then disappear leaving a mark in the form of a scar.

Other symptoms that may appear in the course of late syphilis are the so-called kilaki. They are formed on the skin and bones. Initially, they spread under the skin, and after some time they break through and disintegrate leaving a concave, crater-like ulcer. A pulling discharge forms inside. The changes spread peripherally and heal after many months.

Kilaki often find themselves on the face and lower legs. They leave disfiguring distortions of tissues and bones: bumps on the head, nose and cheeks. The few that develop in the mouth can pierce the palate and destroy the palatal uvula. Changes in the nose area can, in turn, cause cartilage perforation - as a result, a binocular or saddle nose, which is characteristic of syphilis, is formed.

Congenital syphilis in the newborn

The baby may become infected through the placenta (congenital syphilis, multi-organ syphilis) or during childbirth, when primary eruptions or secondary oozing lesions are located around the intimate parts (acquired syphilis, which is similar to that in adults). The more spirochetes that reach the fetus, the greater the risk of having a stillborn baby or with symptoms of congenital syphilis (e.g. severely damaged nervous system).

To prevent this, every pregnant woman has a blood test for syphilis twice (in the 1st and 2nd half of pregnancy). Every woman diagnosed with syphilis (regardless of when) should undergo prophylactic treatment with penicillin for 20 days in the second half of pregnancy (treatment may be withdrawn when the woman was cured before pregnancy, which was confirmed by negative test results and during pregnancy, the result was also negative twice). The infected child is treated with crystal penicillin in the hospital.

Symptoms of syphilis on the body

Syphilis is usually noticed by looking at changes in the feet, tongue and genitals. These are the places where skin symptoms are most quickly recognizable and most visible - it does not mean that they cannot appear in other areas of the body.

  • Syphilis on feet- in the early stage, a syphilis rash (rash) may appear on the feet in the form of red-brown spots and papules; it is mainly located on the sole of the feet. It is formed 9-15 weeks after infection.
  • Syphilis in the hands- similar spots, spots and papules are seen on the inside of the hand. Usually the rash affects the hands and feet simultaneously.
  • Syphilis on the tongue- on the tongue, as well as on the lips,The ulcer characteristic of the first stage of the disease (primary syphilis) may develop on the inside of the cheeks, in the roof of the mouth or in the throat. It appears as a result of infection through oral intercourse. Oral lesions are usually accompanied by enlargement of the surrounding lymph nodes.
  • Syphilis in the glans- as a result of intercourse with an infected person, primary lesions may develop on the glans penis. At first, it is a painless hard lump, which over time turns into an ulcerated, concave, round wound that secretes serous fluid. Heals after 2-6 weeks.
  • Syphilis on the labia- in the first stage of syphilis, it manifests itself as a single, round ulcer. In the second phase (secondary syphilis), flat condylomas or hypertrophic syphilitic papules may appear on the labia. They appear as diffuse, flat eruptions with a papillary surface.

How to avoid getting syphilis?

When deciding to have sexual contact with a person you do not know well, or frequently changing partners, you need to follow the principle of limited trust. Since the disease is spread mainly by sexual means, the best protection is to use condoms (with an approval and expiry date), also during oral and anal sex. The condom only reduces the risk of contracting the disease, but better protection has not yet been invented. Ideally, partners should have blood tests prior to intercourse and stay true to each other.

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