What does syphilis look like? This sexually transmitted disease can wreak havoc on your body, which means that it is crucial that you keep an eye out for any symptoms that suggest you might have contracted the disease.
What Is Syphilis?
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. The disease progresses through four stages, although not everyone gets the same symptoms at the same time. In addition, becoming infected doesn't necessarily mean that you will definitely reach the tertiary, or late, stage of syphilis. Not everyone who gets syphilis progresses through each stage.
Syphilis is an extremely serious disease, one that, during the late stage, can attack vital organs in the body such as the brain, the heart, the eyes and the liver. Complications from syphilis can result in death.
What Does Syphilis Look Like?
Syphilis can be visible during the primary and secondary stages. During the primary stage of syphilis, a person may develop a chancre, or a sore, at the point of infection. This sore will be small and hard. In addition, the chancre will not be painful. Although the chancre will eventually go away, the infection itself might not.
Some people then progress to the secondary stage. This stage is characterized by skin rashes. These rashes may be rough and be red or brown. The rashes can appear any place on the body, including the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. In addition to having rashes, some people lose patches of their hair.
People who are in the latent or tertiary stages of syphilis do not show "visible" symptoms. During the latent stage, the bacteria go into hiding in the body. In the late stage, the symptoms of syphilis are visible through the complications that they cause when damaging the body's organs, such as the eyes, the heart or the brain.
Testing for Syphilis
Another way of diagnosing syphilis is through laboratory testing. During this test, a scraping of the chancre or rashes is examined using a special type of microscope in search of Treponema pallidum.
If the patient is in the latent or tertiary stages of syphilis, the physician may perform a spinal tap to check for evidence of the disease in the spinal fluids.
Blood tests are one of the methods for diagnosing syphilis. If the blood has antibodies to the syphilis bacteria, then the patient has syphilis. However, it is possible to have false negative tests because it can take time for the evidence of a syphilis infection to appear in the blood stream.