Syphilis is A potentially fatal sexually transmitted infection(STI). It can be transmitted through sexual or close contact with an infected person. Syphilis, if left untreated, can cause blindness, heart problems, neurological & mental health issues, damage to the brain, eyes, bones and nerves, as well as death or life-threatening health issues.
Stages of Syphilis
Syphilis develops in 3 stages if untreated—each stage of the illness results in a different set of symptoms. People in the first and second phases of the illness are highly contagious and can readily infect their sex partners. There are 3 stages of Syphilis:
- Primary Syphilis: Two to twelve weeks after being exposed to the infection, the first stage begins. A chancre is a smooth, crimson sore that forms on the mouth or genitalia at this phase. In a few weeks or months, it naturally disappears. In this phase, you might not even be aware that you have a chancre sore because it is small and typically painless.
- Secondary Syphilis: A rough, bumpy roseolar, Syphilis rash develops on the body one to six months after the chancre disappears, typically on the palms and soles (bottoms) of the feet. Additionally, you can experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, exhaustion, sore throat and muscle aches. For months or years, these symptoms may keep appearing and disappearing Variety of body rashes are seen in this stage which may even mimic psoriasis and other skin diseases. It’s common to catch this disease at this stage as patients usually present to treat their skin concerns.
- Latent Syphilis: If the first two stages of Syphilis are not treated, the infection enters the latent stage. Despite the absence of visible Syphilis symptoms during this stage, the infection can still harm your heart, bones, nerves and internal organs. Several years may pass during this phase (10-20 years).
Tertiary (late) Syphilis: if not treated timely, over the years, the disease progresses into a tertiary stage, wherein your immunity fights with bacteria and collateral damage occurs in the healthy tissues nearby. A third of individuals develop the late stages of Syphilis, which can result in several major health issues. These issues develop gradually and include:
- Dementia, mental health issues and brain damage.
- Heart illness.
- Muscle issues and movement difficulties.
- Nerve-related problems.
- Tumours are typically found on the skin and bones.
- Vision issues.
- Big ulcers on skin and mouth
Congenital Syphilis- When a pregnant mother passes the infection to her foetus (developing baby). Babies and children who have Syphilis experience serious health issues. It might end fatally. Congenital Syphilis cases have increased nationwide and all expectant mothers should be checked for the disease.
What causes Syphilis?
Treponema pallidum is the bacteria that causes Syphilis. Contact with a chancre/sore on an infected person while engaging in sexual activity is the most typical method of transmission for Syphilis. Minor skin or mucous membrane abrasions or cuts allow the germs to enter the body. Both the primary and secondary stages of Syphilis and rarely the early latent stage are contagious.
Syphilis can also be less frequently spread by kissing or close contact with an active lesion. During pregnancy or childbirth, moms might potentially transmit it to their babies.
Syphilis does not usually recur on its own after being treated completely. If you come into contact with a person’s Syphilis sore, though, you risk contracting the disease again.
Risk factors of Syphilis
You are more likely to contract Syphilis if you are:
- Having sex without protection
- Have sex with several people
- a man who engages in male sex
- are infected with HIV, which is the cause of AIDS.
What signs do you have of Syphilis?
Depending on the infection’s stage, Syphilis symptoms change. A chancre (a tiny, painless sore) appears on the genitalia during the initial stage. A pink, bumpy, rough rash emerges on the body during the second stage of Syphilis, typically on the palms of your hands or the bottoms of your feet. Additionally, flu-like symptoms like weakness, fever, sore throat and muscle aches could be present.
You are highly contagious during the first and second phases of Syphilis. If your partner touches r chancre while having sex, you risk spreading the virus.
How does Syphilis get treated?
Healthcare professionals will prescribe antibiotics and other medicines based on the presenting symptoms. Even if the rash or chancre goes away, you still need to finish the entire antibiotic course. It’s crucial to get in touch with anybody you’ve had sex with within the past two years and suggest that they get tested.
After you complete a course of Syphilis treatment, your doctor will do a blood test to ensure the infection has been eradicated. If you have a higher chance of contracting Syphilis, make careful to practise safe sex and get tested frequently.
How can Syphilis be prevented?
Syphilis does have a vaccine under trial but is not available for wide use. Follow these recommendations to aid in Syphilis prevention:
- Monogamy or abstinence: The only surefire way to prevent contracting Syphilis is to refrain from having sex: The second-best choice is mutually monogamous sex, in which both partners only engage in sexual activity with one another and are free from infection.
- Invest in a latex condom: If the condom covers the Syphilis sores, it can lower your risk of getting the disease.
- Steer clear of substances of abuse: Alcohol and drug abuse might impair judgement and cause you to engage in risky sexual behaviour.
Awareness of risk factors and initial symptoms can help reduce the spread of this disease. Untreated Syphilis can lead to severe health complications. Therefore, it is important to consult a doctor when in doubt. This condition does not resolve by home remedies or symptomatic treatment. Complete the entire course of treatment as prescribed by a doctor.