Table of contents:
- Types of syphilis
- Syphilis symptoms
- How the transmission happens
- How the diagnosis is made
- Treatment for syphilis
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum which, in most cases, is transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse.
The first symptoms are painless sores on the penis, anus or vulva that, if left untreated, spontaneously disappear and return after weeks, months or years in their secondary or tertiary forms, which are more severe.
Syphilis is curable and its treatment is done through penicillin injections, guided by the doctor according to the stage of the disease in which the patient is. See how to treat and achieve a cure for syphilis.
Types of syphilis
Syphilis can be classified into some types according to the stage of the disease, which is defined according to the signs and symptoms presented and the development of the bacteria. Thus, the types of syphilis are:
- Primary syphilis, which is characterized by the appearance of symptoms in the genital region about 3 weeks after contact with the bacteria;
- Secondary syphilis, which appears a few weeks after the disappearance of symptoms of primary syphilis, being indicative of the development of the bacteria;
- Tertiary syphilis, which is the most severe form of syphilis and whose symptoms can appear years after contact with the bacteria responsible for the disease;
- Congenital syphilis, in which the bacteria is passed from mother to baby during pregnancy or delivery, resulting in changes in the baby's development.
The development of different types of syphilis is mainly related to the absence of treatment or inadequate treatment, as the bacteria are not properly eliminated, remaining in the body for longer and leading to the appearance of more severe forms of the disease. disease.
The first symptom of syphilis is a non-bleeding, non-painful wound that appears after direct contact with someone else's syphilis wound. However, symptoms tend to evolve, varying according to the stage of infection:
1. Primary syphilis
Primary syphilis is the initial stage of the disease, which appears about 3 weeks after contact with the bacterium responsible for the disease, Treponema pallidum. This stage is characterized by the appearance of hard chancre, which corresponds to a small sore or lump that does not hurt or cause discomfort, and which disappears after about 4 to 5 weeks, without leaving scars.
In men, these sores usually appear around the foreskin, while in women they appear on the labia minora and vaginal wall. It is also common for this sore to appear on the anus, mouth, tongue, breasts and fingers. During this period, swellings may also appear in the groin or near the affected region. Learn more about the main causes of sores on the penis.
2. Secondary syphilis
After the hard chancre lesions disappear, which is a period of inactivity that can last from six to eight weeks, the disease can start again if it is not identified and treated. This time, the compromise will occur on the skin and internal organs, since the bacteria were able to multiply and spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream.
New lesions are characterized as pinkish spots or small brownish bumps that appear on the skin, mouth, nose, palms and soles of the feet, and sometimes there may also be intense peeling of the skin. Other symptoms that may appear are:
- Red spots on the skin, mouth, nose, palms and soles of the feet;
- Skin peeling;
- Longs all over the body, but mainly in the genital area;
- Muscle pain;
- Sore throat;
- Mild fever, usually below 38ºC;
- Lack of appetite;
- Weight Loss.
This phase continues during the first two years of the disease, and appears in the form of outbreaks that regress spontaneously, but become increasingly lasting.
3. Tertiary syphilis
Tertiary syphilis appears in people who have not been able to spontaneously fight the disease in its secondary phase or who have not had adequate treatment. At this stage, syphilis is characterized by:
- Major lesions on the skin, mouth and nose;
- Problems in internal organs: heart, nerves, bones, muscles, liver and blood vessels;
- Constant headache;
- Frequent nausea and vomiting;
- Neck stiffness, with difficulty moving the head;
- Hearing loss;
- Vertigo, insomnia and stroke;
- Exaggerated reflexes and dilated pupils;
- Delusions, hallucinations, decreased recent memory, impaired ability to orient, perform simple math and speak when there is general paresis.
These symptoms usually appear 10 to 30 years after the initial infection, especially when treatment is not performed. Therefore, to avoid complications in other organs of the body, treatment should be carried out soon after the first symptoms of syphilis appear.
Better understand the stages of syphilis in the following video:
4. Congenital syphilis
Congenital syphilis happens when the baby acquires syphilis during pregnancy or at the time of delivery, and it is usually due to the woman who has syphilis not doing the correct treatment for the disease. Syphilis during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, malformations or death of the baby at birth. In live babies, symptoms can appear from the first few weeks of life to more than 2 years after birth, and include:
- Rounded pale red or pink spots on the skin, including the palms of the hands and soles of the feet;
- Easy irritability;
- Loss of appetite and energy to play;
- Problems with bones and teeth;
- Hearing loss;
- Mental disability.
Treatment for congenital syphilis is usually done with 2 injections of penicillin for 10 days or 2 injections of penicillin for 14 days, depending on the age of the child. See more about congenital syphilis.
How the transmission happens
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection and, therefore, can be transmitted through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sexual intercourse, that is, without a condom, when coming into contact with the secretion of the lesions present in the region genital and/or anal.
In addition, syphilis can be transmitted by sharing needles, as the bacteria in the secondary phase of the disease are circulating in the blood, and can be transmitted from one person to another through this route. Another form of transmission is from the mother to the child during pregnancy or at the time of delivery, and this can happen when the woman does not receive adequate treatment. Understand better how syphilis is transmitted.
How the diagnosis is made
To confirm that it is syphilis, the doctor must observe the intimate region of the person, evaluate the presence of signs and symptoms indicative of infection and investigate if there was intimate contact without a condom.
Even if there is no wound in the genital region or other parts of the cup, the doctor may request a test called VDRL, which is the test normally indicated to carry out the diagnosis of syphilis, being also able to provide information about the disease severity according to the amount of circulating antibodies against the bacteria. Understand what the VDRL exam is and how it is performed.
This test is usually performed every trimester of pregnancy for all pregnant women because syphilis is a serious illness that a mother can pass on to her baby, but is easily cured with antibiotics prescribed by a doctor.
Treatment for syphilis
Treatment for syphilis should be done according to the doctor's advice, and it is important to follow the instructions even if there are no more visible signs or symptoms to ensure the elimination of the bacteria.For this, the doctor usually recommends injections of penicillin-benzathine, also called benzethacyl. The treatment time and the number of injections may vary according to the stage of the disease the person is in and symptoms presented. Check out more details about the treatment for syphilis.
Is syphilis curable?
Syphilis is curable and can be easily treated with penicillin injections, but treatment should be started as soon as possible to avoid serious complications in other organs such as the brain, heart and eyes, for example. example.