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Symptoms will depend on what stage the syphilis is in. There are four main stages.
Primary (First) Stage within 10-90 days of exposure
A single lesion will usually appear. It will occur in the area where the infection was originally passed. Common sites include the genitals, rectum, tongue, inside of the mouth, or lips.
It will start as a raised and painless lesion. It will gradually break down to form an ulcer. The ulcer is painless at first with raised edges. It usually last for 3-6 weeks. The ulcer will heal on its own.
Without treatment, the infection may move to the secondary stage. This can happen even if the ulcers are no longer visible.
Secondary Stage Several Weeks to Months after the Original Lesion
This stage is marked by the appearance of a non-itchy rash. This rash may appear as rough, red, or reddish brown spots on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet. It is also possible for different rashes to appear in other places on the body. These rashes may appear as:
Small blotches, pustules, or scales
Moist warts in the groin area
Slimy white patches in the mouth
The rash may be accompanied by flu-like symptoms, such as:
Syphilis can be treated with antibiotics. The type of antibiotic and length of treatment will depend on how long you have been infected. Half of those being treated for syphilis will have fever with headache, muscle aches, and other symptoms during the first 24 hours of treatment.
If you have syphilis of any stage, avoid sexual relations until treatment is complete and the infection is cleared up. All sex partners should be notified. They will need to be treated as well.
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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.