What short-term effects does syphilis have?

Syphilis has 3 stages; primary, secondary and latent. The symptoms of syphilis are not always obvious and some people may not have any symptoms.

The primary stage occurs within the first 3 months of infection. A small, painless sore or ulcer may develop on the genitals or sometimes around the mouth, lips, fingers or buttocks. Some people get several sores. You may also have swollen glands in your neck, groin or armpits. These symptoms usually clear within 8 weeks.

It's important to remember that untreated syphilis may develop into the secondary stage. This usually occurs within the first 6 months of infection. Secondary Syphilis can cause skin problems (usually a rash) and swelling of lymph glands anywhere in the body.

Latent Syphilis is what happens more than two years after infection. Many people experience serious consequences at this stage when Syphilis can affect bones, skin, heart or central nervous system and may be life-threatening.

If you have symptoms, are worried you might have syphilis, or if a sexual partner has been diagnosed with syphilis, it's important to get tested and treated as soon as possible.

Last updated at: 08 March 2022


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