Syphilis symptoms What are symptoms of Syphilis?

Syphilis symptoms

Why is syphilis called "the silent killer" and "the great pretender"?

Syphilis is hard to detect because symptoms may not appear, or if they do they can seem insignificant and get ignored. Even if you do have symptoms - such as a sore or ulcer - it can be misdiagnosed as something else or disappear, making you believe you are free of infection. Yet syphilis does not go away unless it's been treated. It can remain in your body for 10-30 years before spreading to your organs and it can prove fatal.

Syphilis has four stages and each has different symptoms.

Primary stage: (10 days to three months from being infected) painless sores can appear at the site of infection, usually in or around the genitals, anus or mouth. The sore will disappear within two to six weeks and if left untreated, it will move to the next stage.

Secondary stage: (a few weeks after the sore disappears) non-itchy skin rash, small growths often mistaken for genital warts, swollen lymph nodes, flu-like symptoms such as tiredness and fever, weight loss, hair loss.

Latent stage: (comes after the secondary stage) there are no signs or symptoms but syphilis is still in your body. This phase can last for years and many people won't progress.

Tertiary stage: (can be up to 30 years after the latent stage) syphilis starts to affect the organs including nervous system, heart, brain and eyes and can lead to paralysis, dementia, blindness and death.

Syphilis symptoms in man

What are the typical syphilis symptoms in men?

Many men with syphilis won't have symptoms and it is hard to identify and often ignored or misdiagnosed. However, the most common symptoms include:

  • small, painless sores or ulcers called chancres on or around the penis and anus
  • small growths (often mistaken for genital warts) in the rectum or around the anus

However, syphilis doesn't only affect the genitals. Other symptoms include:

  • sores and ulcers in the mouth and on the fingers
  • a skin rash that doesntt itch
  • swollen lymph glands
  • flu-like symptoms including fever and fatigue
  • weight loss
  • hair loss
Syphilis symptoms in woman

What are the typical syphilis symptoms in women?

Many women with syphilis won't have symptoms and it is hard to identify and often ignored or misdiagnosed. However, the most common symptoms include:

  • small, painless sores or ulcers called chancres on, in or around the vagina and anus
  • small growths (often mistaken for genital warts) on the vulva, in the rectum or around the anus

However, syphilis doesn't only affect the genitals. Other symptoms include:

  • sores and ulcers in the mouth and on the fingers
  • a skin rash that doesn't itch
  • swollen lymph glands
  • flu-like symptoms including fever and fatigue
  • weight loss
  • hair loss
Syphilis in pregnancy

Syphilis in pregnancy (also called neonatal or congenital syphilis)

Untreated syphilis in pregnancy results in the death of 40% of babies - either stillborn or dying shortly after birth. Infants that do survive are at serious risk of deformities, seizures and delays in their development.

what are symptoms of syphilis

What happens if I don't get treated?

Syphilis cannot leave the body without treatment. Many people live with the infection for decades, unaware that have it as they have no symptoms. Untreated syphilis can progress through the primary, secondary, latent and tertiary stages. By the time it reaches the final stage, it begins to affect the organs and causes great damage to the body and sometimes death.

Last updated July 27, 2018