What does syphilis look like?

 

 

Warning

 

This website page contains photographic images of the signs of syphilis infection.  Images depict patients with signs of primary and secondary syphilis and include photographs of the face, lip, hands, scalp, genitalia and rectal areas.  The photographs presented here may not be suitable for all viewers. To view these images and read text describing the signs and symptoms of syphilis, scroll down the page.

 

 

 

 

 Primary Stage

This first stage of syphilis is called primary syphilis.

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Penis: The most common sites of infection in men are on the penis.  Within 90 days of infection (three week average), a painless sore or ulcer called a chancre appears.  This first stage of syphilis is called primary syphilis.  This chancre contains a clear fluid that is full of syphilis-causing bacteria making the infected person highly contagious.  The chancre will heal even without treatment within a few weeks.

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Vulva:  The vulva is a common site of primary syphilis infection in women.  While there may be multiple sores, usually a single firm, round, small and painless chancre or sore appears within 90 days of infection with the syphilis bacteria.  The chancre is full of syphilis-causing bacteria making the infected person highly contagious.  Sometimes, women may have an unnoticed chancre since it may be hidden away in the vagina or anus and is painless. The chancre will heal even without treatment within a few weeks.

Anus: Another common site of primary infection is on the anus.  Within 90 days of infection (three week average), a painless sore or ulcer called a chancre appears.  The chancre contains a clear fluid that is full of syphilis-causing bacteria making the infected person highly contagious.  The chancre may be in the rectum and will be unnoticed.  The chancre will heal even without treatment within a few weeks.

Mouth: Another common site of infection is in, on, or around the mouth.  Within 90 days of infection (three week average), a painless sore or ulcer called a chancre appears.  This chancre contains a clear fluid that is full of syphilis-causing bacteria making the infected person highly contagious.  The chancre will heal even without treatment within a few weeks.

 

 Secondary Stage

After about a month, other symptoms appear.  This is called secondary syphilis. 

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Around the Mouth:  Sores on the face and around the mouth are called “nickel and dime” lesions and are typically round and vary in size. 

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Hands, Feet and Trunk:  A copper-colored rash on the trunk of the body, or larger spots on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet is a commonly seen sign of secondary syphilis.

Wart-Like Growths:  Multiple wart-like growths called condylomata lata may be seen on the genitals and around the anus.

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Hair Loss:  Hair loss (alopecia) sometimes occurs in late secondary syphilis.  Hair loss may be patchy (moth-eaten appearance) or may involve the total loss of hair.

 

 

Latent Stage

 

All of these symptoms will go away without treatment within a few weeks. Even though the disease seems to be gone, you are still infected during this stage.

 

If you’re at risk, get tested.  

 

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