What are the symptoms of Syphilis?

Every year, 400 to 500 new cases of syphilis are diagnosed in France. The symptoms of this STI are reported in this article.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a bacterium: Treponema pallidum.

Formerly called “Evil of Naples” or “great pox”, syphilis is an infectious disease that is transmitted mainly by sexual means – via vaginal penetration, of course, but also during intercourse (sodomy, for example) or oral-genital (fellatio, oral sex, Anal…).

In France, syphilis is not uncommon: 400 to 500 new cases are diagnosed each year, especially among homosexual men (they accounted for 84% of cases reported in 2014). However, the number of cases is constantly increasing among the heterosexual population, especially in the Paris region.

Syphilis is not an innocuous disease: in the absence of treatment, serious lesions may occur in the heart, brain, nervous system or bone. In the most severe cases, there may be a loss of eyesight and/or hearing, or even meningitis.

Syphilis: What are the symptoms?
The disease evolves in successive phases. The first symptoms usually appear between 1 week and 3 months after contamination: one can see the appearance of “red spots” at the point of entry of the disease (genital area, mouth, anus area…).

A “syphilitic canker” can also develop: it is a ulceration of the skin or mucous membranes (i.e. a pimple with a hole) that is not painful. In humans, it is most often found on the acorn or on the Balano-preputial furrow – This is the area that separates the acorn from the penis. In women, it may appear at the cervix, rectum, or throat level. With or without treatment, this canker disappears in the space of 2 to 6 weeks without leaving a scar.

The second phase of the disease is characterized by a rash that reminds of acne or chickenpox: The pimples may appear at the back or chest level, or (more characteristically) on the palms of the hands, the plants of the feet , or even the genital area.

In parallel, flu-onset symptoms may occur: swollen lymph nodes, hair loss, joint and/or muscular pain, fever…

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