Secondary Stage: Several Weeks to Months after the Original Sore
This stage features a non-itchy rash. The rash may appear as rough, red, or reddish brown spots on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet. Other rashes may also appear in other places on the body. These rashes may appear as:
Small blotches, blisters, or scales
Moist warts in the groin
Slimy white patches in the mouth
The rash may happen with flu-like symptoms, such as sore throat, fever, and muscle aches.
Without treatment, the symptoms will go away within a few weeks. But there may be repeated episodes during the next few years.
Latency (Resting) Stage: May Last for Years
The infection is still present but there are no symptoms. It may or may not progress to the third stage. Blood tests for syphilis will be positive during this stage.
Tertiary (Third or Late) Stage
This stage may start years after the initial infection. It is rare in developed countries. In this stage, the infection damages the:
Brain and nerves
Heart and blood vessels
Bones and joints
Damage can be harsh enough to cause death. Symptoms are:
Small bumps called gummas on the skin, bones, or internal organs
Central nervous system damage, such as weakness, numbness, trouble walking, problems with balance, memory and mental health problems, and loss of bladder control
You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
Bibbins-Domingo K, Grossman D, et al. Screening for syphilis infection in nonpregnant adults and adolescents: US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. JAMA. 2016 Jun 7;315(21):2321-2327.
Latent syphilis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/latent-syphilis. Accessed October 19, 2020.
Primary syphilis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/primary-syphilis. Accessed October 19, 2020.
Secondary syphilis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/secondary-syphilis. Accessed October 19, 2020.
Syphilis-CDC fact sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/std/syphilis/STDFact-Syphilis.htm. Accessed October 19, 2020.
Tertiary syphilis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/tertiary-syphilis. Accessed October 19, 2020.
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