Syphilis is one of the common sexually transmitted diseases spreading through sexual activity. The bacterium can spread to other person either through oral or anal sex. It begins as a small painless sore on the sex organs and spreads to the partner through skin contact. Syphilis can be easily treated and cured. It is better to prevent this infection by avoiding having sex with unknown persons or multiple partners.
How Does It Spread ?
The bacterial infection will not spread to others by sharing towels, bath tubs or swimming pools with infected person. Even you can share clothing and toilet seats of infected individual. But it spreads when you have oral sex or anal sex with infected partner. There is every chance of receiving the infection when you involve in prolonged kissing or have intimate body contact with the individual. Primarily the infection spreads by having unprotected sex. Syphilis infection has been constantly rising in number in the USA and many other countries. This is because of gay sex wherein men have sex with men.
The bacteria by name Treponema pallidum cause syphilis infection. The bacteria get easily transferred to the other person when he/she have sexual contact or close skin contact with the infected person. The bacteria would enter the body if you have any injury, cut or abrasions in your skin. Syphilis is highly contagious during the primary and secondary stages.
The infection can also spread to the baby from his infected mother during the stage of pregnancy. It can also spread to the other person when he/she involves in prolonged kissing. Syphilis infection is one of the major health concerns causing serious health problems in many countries.
Syphilis infection occurs in 3 different stages known as primary, secondary and tertiary stage.
In the primary stage, there will be formation of sores on the person’s body. These sores will either occur on the vagina or penis or sometimes on the mouth of the infected individual. On an average the bacteria will take minimum three weeks of showing the symptoms after it enters the body. Many people will not give importance to these sores since they are painless and lies hidden in private parts. The sore will appear on the place where the bacterium finds entry into your body.
In the secondary stage, (6 weeks to 6 months) rashes are formed on the hands and feet of the person. If left untreated primary syphilis will cause secondary stage of infection. Some people will also get warts in the groin and other body parts. In addition, it may cause fever, swollen lymph nodes, and loss of weight.
Actually the original sore will be healed completely and the person will develop sudden rash on his/her entire body. The rash will not cause itching and looks like warts. The signs of rash and warts will be there for few weeks and disappear on its own without taking treatment. But the infection symptoms will continue to appear after few weeks again and it will continue for several years. Latent syphilis is one in which the infection causing bacteria remains dormant in your body without producing any symptoms.
Tertiary stage of syphilis is very critical stage and it can damage your vital organs like brain or heart or nervous system. It can cause permanent blindness, deafness, paralysis and impotence, if the infection is not treated at this stage. This stage happens when the infected individual ignores all the symptoms above and simply restrains himself from taking treatment. About 20-30% of infected people (with syphilis) will develop these complications if not treated. In rare cases, babies born to infected mothers will develop congenital syphilis showing rash on the feet and palms.
Who are at risk ?
Those who are involved in unsafe sex have increased chance of getting syphilis. Similarly men who have sex with men and women with multiple sex partners are also under the risk of developing syphilis. People who already have HIV infection can also develop this infection.
If not treated within time, the infection will spread into the entire body causing severe damage. Tumors can develop on the bones, liver or any other organ. It can cause neurological problems like paralysis, stroke, meningitis, loss of vision and dementia. It may also infect the blood vessels of your heart or heart valves. In some cases it can make the person prone to HIV infection.
A simple blood test is enough to detect syphilis infection. Antibodies are produced to fight against bacteria remains in your body indicating the presence of infection. Biopsy of the sore is tested on the lab for detecting bacterium.
Penicillin is the best antibiotic for killing the dormant bacteria in your body causing infection. In case if the person is allergic to penicillin doctors would prescribe doxycycline or tetracycline. Often, single dose of penicillin is enough for destroying the infection. In severe cases more doses are given. Syphilis can be cured easily and it can stop the infection from progressing. If a pregnant woman has this infection penicillin is the ideal antibiotic to prevent further infection. The child should be given suitable antibiotic shortly after birth.
Initially the infected person will experience Jarisch Herxheimer symptoms after receiving first shot of injection. It can cause chills, fever, muscle-ache and headache but all these signs will disappear within a day or two. Make sure that you are making follow-up visits to your doctor for testing your blood regularly. You should abstain yourself from any type of sexual activity until the infection is completely cured.
What Happens When It Is Not Treated?
Unlike many other diseases which cure on its own, syphilis will not get resolved without taking proper treatment. The bacteria remain dormant in the body for several years and become active some time later. Without giving proper treatment, it can cause severe damage to vital organs like brain or heart and can even cause death.
Pictures of Syphilis :
Images, Pics, Pictures and Photos of Syphilis
Any woman or man suspecting syphilis infection should not involve in sex. In case you are having sex with unknown persons, use latex condoms to prevent infection. You cannot totally avoid getting infection but you can reduce the risk to some extent. The best way to prevent syphilis is to be monogamous (having sex with single partner only). Pregnant women should undergo screening for syphilis infection to protect her child.