The symptoms of syphilis are divided into stages:
- Primary stage – One or multiple firm, round and painless sores appear on the location when syphilis entered the body. Even if the sore goes untreated, it will go away in 3 to 6 weeks. If untreated, the infection will move to the secondary stage.
- Secondary stage ¬– Mucous membrane lesions (skin rashes) and/or sores develop in the vagina, anus, or mouth. They show up when the primary stage sores are healing or healed. The rough, red, or reddish brown rash usually does not itch and is so faint it can go unnoticed. These usually appear on the palms of your hands and/or soles of your feet. Other symptoms include sore throat, patchy hair loss, swollen lymph glands, fever, weight loss, muscle aches, headaches, and fatigue. If these go untreated they will eventually go away, but the infection will move to the late stages.
- Latent and late stages – This stage occurs when the symptoms from the first two stages disappear. If untreated, syphilis remains in the body with late stage syphilis occurring 10-30 years after the infection began. Although many go for years without signs or symptoms, late stage syphilis does happen and those symptoms are very serious. These symptoms include paralysis, numbness, difficulty coordinating muscle movements, blindness and dementia. In late stage syphilis, internal organ damage occurs and can result in death.
A blood test or a test of the fluid from a sore can be used to determine whether or not you have syphilis.
Syphilis can be cured with the right antibiotics, but the damage sustained from the disease cannot be reversed. It is easy to cure syphilis if it is caught in its early stages.
If you do receive treatment for syphilis, you must abstain from sex until the sores disappear. Be sure to tell your partner so they can be tested and receive treatment