Syphilis is an infection caused by bacteria. It's usually spread through sex. It is one of several types of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
The first symptom is usually a painless, red sore on the genitals, rectal area, or mouth. This type of sore is called a chancre (say "SHANK-er"). Later, you may get other symptoms. These include a rash, a fever, and swollen lymph nodes. Your hair may start to fall out. Or you may feel like you have the flu.
Sometimes these symptoms go away on their own. But this doesn't mean that the infection is gone. If you don't treat syphilis with antibiotics, the infection can spread in your body. You can also spread it to others.
Antibiotics can cure syphilis and prevent more serious complications. Both you and your sex partner or partners need antibiotic treatment. This is to prevent you from passing the infection back and forth or to other sex partners.
During the first 24 hours of treatment, you may have a fever, a headache, and muscle aches.
After treatment, you will get blood tests to make sure you don't have any more bacteria in your body. You may also want to be tested for other STIs.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: March 20, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& Kevin C. Kiley, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
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