What is Syphilis?

Of the many kinds of venereal diseases out there, syphilis seems to be one of the most known and probably one of the most serious. Syphilis has a long standing history of infecting the human population that dates back even in the biblical times. Even today, syphilis is known to infect a great number of people every year. The only difference to day is that there are now effective treatments that can help in curing this dreaded disease.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease that is caused by the Treponema pallidium bacteria. The disease is passed from person to person through direct contact with a syphilis core, also known as a chancre. Chancres may appear in the external genitals and anus but may also be found at times in the lips and the mouth. And because of the presence of chancres, syphilis can be transmitted through vaginal, anal and even oral sex.

After infection, the symptoms may appear from around 20 days and as early as 10 days. They are marked in stages where the first stage is known by the appearance of small, firm, and round chancres. Some people may not easily notice them since they are generally painless and may not be a bother to an infected person. The chancre growth may last for as long as five weeks and may heal on its own. One would think that it he or she is already safe after the chancres disappear. But it would just be the start of the second stage of the infection.

The second stage of syphilis starts when non-itching skin rashes begin to appear in one or more areas of the body. The rashes may look like coin shaped rough spots in the skin, usually on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. It can also appear as sort of like a prickly rash that scales on different parts of the body.

Acne growths may also develop as well as moist warts on the groin area. White patches may also be seen around the mouth area along with the development of pus-filled eruptions similar to that of chicken pox. The rashes may last for about two to six weeks and, just like the chancres, may disappear and heal on their own. This is also the stage when the infected person may be able to easily infect others through sexual contact.

The third stage of the disease is also known as the latent or hidden stage. During this time, if the infected person has not received any treatment at all, the disease still remains in the body even though there are no outward signs visible to show it. But inside, the disease may begin to do some serious damage to the internal organs such as the brain, nerves, eyes, liver, bones and joints among others.

The first choice for treating syphilis remains to be the antibiotic penicillin. Bicillin, a specific type of the said antibiotic will be able to cure a person who has contracted syphilis for less than one year. Infections for longer than a year may require more doses in order to cure. People with syphilis who are allergic to penicillin can be effectively treated using oral tetracyclines. The antibiotic ceftriaxone may also be used as an alternative treatment for the disease and may be given intramuscularly or intravenously.

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