It is a highly contagious disease that spread through sexual contact. It is one of the common STDs it can also pass through close bodily contact with infected person. It is such a dangerous disease that can cause brain damage, blindness and arthritis.
If a pregnant woman is having having scabies she can pass it to the baby causing still birth. Syphilis is an STD that is easily cured in the early stages, but if left untreated it can cause serious complications.
Person infected wit syphilis is at high risk of getting HIV and other related STDs. Though the syphilis rate is declining in women, but it is increasing in men.
Syphilis is a skin infection caused by a micro-organism called “spirochete”. Spirochetes are worm like spiral shaped bacteria that burrows in the moist areas of the mucous membranes.
As previously noted, it can spread through close skin to skin contact or sexual contact whether anal, vaginal or oral. Syphilis can be congenital too, i.e., it can pass from mother to the fetus.
What Are the Symptoms of Syphilis?
The symptoms of syphilis that appear are same for men and women. In the early stages it is hard to recognize and infection goes unchecked. The symptoms if appear, they progress in four stages; primary stage, secondary stage, latent stage and tertiary stage.
After exposure, initial symptoms appear from 10 days to three months. Infection appears commonly as small, painless ulcer called “chancre”. The sores appear mostly on the areas where the infection is transmitted.
The sore can appear on vagina, penis, anus, lips, tonsils,fingers or buttocks. Infected person may also experience swelling of the lymph glands.
The sores produces by spirochetes can be overlooked due to their painlessness, but if it goes untreated, it can progress to 2nd stage called “secondary stage”.
After the disappearance of sores, there begins the secondary syphilis. Secondary syphilis have the symptoms that include skin rashes that are painless and appear on the body anywhere, specially on the palms of hands and soles of feet.
Warts like skin growths are seen on the vulva of women and around the anus of both the men and women. These growths are mostly confused with genital warts.
Secondary stage of syphilis also comes up with the flue like symptoms, headache, joint pains, fatigue, patchy hair loss, swollen lymph glands and weight loss.
If the secondary syphilis goes untreated even after the symptoms of the stage it progresses to the hidden stage called “latent stage”.
All the signs and symptoms of the secondary stage disappear when the latent stage begins.
In the latent stage the syphilis can pass through sexual contact or close skin contact to another person unknowingly. Latent stage continues for very long time, if goes untreated it can progress to most dangerous stage “tertiary stage”.
The symptoms of tertiary stage appears after years of even decades after the exposure to the infection. The symptoms of tertiary syphilis depends on the region of the body that is affected.
It may affect the brain, nerves, eyes, heart, bones, skin or blood vessels, leading to stroke, dementia, loss of co-ordination, numbness, paralysis, blindness, deafness, heart disease or skin rashes.
The tertiary syphilis is dangerous enough to cause death of the infected one.
How Can I Know If I Have Syphilis?
If one is suspected to have syphilis, one must visit the health clinic of general physician immediately, because earlier the treatment begins,lesser the chances of serious complications.
The health care provider will first examine the infected areas. In men, this examination involves looking at the penis, foreskin and urethra.
For women, the external examination of vagina is performed and anus of both the men and the women is examined.
Blood tests can be performed for the detection of syphilis. If sore are present, sample is collected by swab from the sores and looked under the microscope to check if the micro-organism is present or not.
If one is getting tested for syphilis, one should be regularly tested for there STDs like chlamydia, gonorrhea and HIV too.
If the person is infected with syphilis, his body starts producing antibodies against it. The presence of syphilis antibodies are checked in the blood to discover the presence of the bacteria.
Is There a Treatment for Syphilis?
Yes, the primary and secondary syphilis can be treated with a single dose of penicillin. One is also prescribed with another antibiotic to prevent the allergy due to penicillin.
Late stages of syphilis needs to be treated with three injection of penicillin with weekly intervals. Benzathine penicillin G, Doxycycline and tetracycline are alternative choices for those allergic to penicillin.
Penicillin is only recommended to treat syphilis in pregnant women. If a pregnant woman is getting treated for syphilis the new born of such woman should also be treated with antibiotic.
In pregnancy syphilis can be treated successfully without any harm of antibiotics to the baby.
How Is Syphilis Spread?
Syphilis is spread through unprotected sexual contact or direct contact with syphilis sores. The bacteria can enter in the body of unaffected person through penis, vagina, anus or mouth.
It can also spread through contact of broken skin with the syphilis sore or from the mother to the unborn.
How Can I Prevent Getting Syphilis?
The only ways to avoid getting syphilis are to adopt healthy living style and healthy sexual activities, avoid polygamy, don’t share clothes and towels of the infected person.
Use condoms and dental dams or other protective barriers during sexual activity. Get regular tests and checkups from the health care provider.
How Can I Prevent Spreading Syphilis?
If one is having syphilis, it is important for him/her to tell the partner. Avoid having sex with the infected one.
Don’t contact with syphilis sores of the infected person.