Another deadly sexually transmitted disease, Syphilis is characterized by generalized rash or sores on the genitals/anus/mouth. Often, it produces no symptoms making diagnosis difficult.
- More common among heterosexuals/bisexuals
- Affects both males and females
- High incidence rates in the age group of 20-29 years
- Direct contact with the syphilitic sores
- Unprotected sex
- Oral or anal sex
- Pregnant mother to baby
- Men having sex with other men
There are 4 stages of syphilis as follows:
A. Primary syphilis:
- Painless sores on the affected area usually the genitals or anus.
- Round, firm sores or ulcers or chancres are typical of syphilis.
- Highly contagious sores easily transmit the infection.
- Increased chances of contracting HIV
- Appears approximately 3-4 weeks after infection exposure
- Usually, heals on its own within 2-6 weeks but treatment recommended to avoid progression to the secondary stage.
B. Secondary Syphilis:
- Generalized, non-itchy rash on the entire body
- Reddish-brown colored rash, mainly on the palms and soles
- Warts on the affected area
- Flu-like symptoms such as fever, body ache, sore throat, headache
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Weight loss
- Usually, this stage resolves on its own but treatment should be taken to clear off the infection.
C. Latent Syphilis:
Silent syphilis does not produce any symptoms.
D. Tertiary or Late Syphilis:
- Untreated syphilis progresses to this advanced stage
- Multiple organ damage such as heart, brain, liver, etc
- Can affect nerves causing paralysis, blindness, numbness
- Other complications include stroke, memory loss, tumors or even death.
- Late-stage may develop decades after the initial infection, staying dormant for years.
Congenital Syphilis: Syphilis in a pregnant woman may result in stillbirth or the baby may have:
- Low birth weight
- Saddle nose i.e. collapsed nasal bone
- Dental deformities
- Predisposition to other neonatal diseases
- Safe sex
- Sex with a single partner
- Avoid sharing sex toys
- Avoid sharing needles for drug infusions.
- Regular testing for STDs
By testing blood samples or discharges from the chancres.
Easily cured by medications during initial stages.
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