The symptoms of syphilis develop with its various stages. The common symptoms of syphilis in its primary stage include a small, painless sore or ulcer that appear at the site of infection such as the penis, vagina, anus, rectum, tongue or lips.
Syphilis can be difficult to diagnose as the symptoms are often non-specific and mild. The symptoms are similar in men and women and can often be difficult to recognise. Many people have mild symptoms of syphilis and hence, they can transmit the infection without knowing that they have it.
The symptoms evolve in stages:
Initial symptoms start between 10 days to 3 months after exposure to infection.
Secondary Syphilis: Symptoms of secondary syphilis start a few weeks after the sore goes away. The common symptoms in the second stage include:
Some other less common symptoms include:
These symptoms usually subside after a few weeks, or but may recur over a period of months.
In the latent (hidden) phase of syphilis, the person is infected but has no symptoms. You can transmit the infection to another person during the first year of this stage of the condition either by sexual or close physical contact. However, after a few years even though you are infected you don’t transmit the infection to others. The latent stage of syphilis can last for years or even decades after the initial infection. If you are not treated properly during this stage, latent syphilis can progress to the most dangerous stage of syphilis; tertiary syphilis.
This stage of syphilis starts years or even decades after initial infection. This stage of syphilis can be fatal. Symptoms during this stage depend on the part of the body which gets affected by the infection. Tertiary syphilis can affect the brain, nerves, eyes, heart, bones, skin and blood vessels. The potential symptoms of tertiary syphilis include:
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