Syphilis Symptoms Singapore | Shim Clinic

Help me about Syphilis Symptoms !

Syphilis symptoms may present in one of four different stages: primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary. And also congenitally.

Syphilis - sore on male sex organSyphilis chancre penisPrimary Syphilis – a painless and firm ulcer (called a chancre) develops at the site of infection (penis, anal, mouth, scrotum) after nine to 90 days. If left untreated, the chancre will heal by itself within a few weeks. This does not indicate that the infection is cured; on the contrary the infection is actually spreading throughout the body.

Syphilis - skin rashSyphilis - skin rashSecondary Syphilis – rashes on palms, soles, and body usually appear within three months after the initial infection, coupled with flu-like symptoms (fever, lethargy, swollen glands). Other less common symptoms include moist, fleshy growth near the groin and anus, hair loss, etc. This is the most infectious stage. If left untreated, the rashes may also disappear; once again this does not mean that the infection is cured.

It must be emphasised that not all patients demonstrate early symptoms. Furthermore many may not be aware of infections occurring in the rectum or throat, while others may ignore mild rashes and flu-like symptoms which can be mistaken for a common throat infection and viral rash. Blood tests for syphilis one to three months after exposure will be able to diagnose the infection.

Latent Syphilis – this is the period where there are no symptoms or signs, the infection is called latent. Though it is not infectious, the bacteria continue to spread in internal organs. Some infected persons with syphilis remain in this latent stage for the rest of their lives with limited complications.

Syphilis - joint deformityTertiary Syphilis – a proportion of infected persons progress to this late stage after five to up to 30 years where internal organs like the heart, brain, eyes, nerves, spinal cord are seriously infected. Usually these people are discovered when they present with heart problems, visual problems, psychiatric or brain complaints etc.





A. Primary Syphilis
Usually occurs 2-6 weeks following infection. Characterized by a single or less often multiple, painless, indurated ulcer (chancre) at the site of inoculation. Regional lymph nodes are enlarged, feel rubbery and are painless.

B. Secondary Syphilis
Usually occurs 2-6 months following primary syphilis. Characterized by variable mucocutaneous and systemic signs e.g. symmetrical non-itchy rashes, mucous membrane lesions, patchy alopecia, generalised lymphadenopathy.

C. Latent Syphilis
Asymptomatic phase with no clinical signs of organ involvement. It is categorised into –

  • Early latent syphilis (<1 year of infection)
  • Late latent syphilis (>1 year of infection)

D. Tertiary Syphilis
Occurs 5 to 10 years after secondary syphilis and includes –

  • Benign tertiary syphilis characterized by gumma formation
  • Cardiovascular syphilis
  • Neurosyphilis






Sexual risk (of HIV/STD/pregnancy), and what you can do before and after exposure.
Timeline HIV STD Pregnancy
Before exposure
Abstain from sex, Be faithful, or Condom use
Circumcision (males only)
Contraception (females only)
HIV PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) - Stop HIV infection before exposure STD vaccine: - Hepatitis vaccine - HPV vaccine
STD / HIV exposure
Unsafe sex / unprotected sex: No condom / Condom broke / Condom slip
0-72 hours HIV PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) - Stop HIV infection after exposure STD testing * - Screening test - to look for asymptomatic infections - from previous exposures Emergency contraception with the morning-after pill (females only)
2 weeks HIV DNA Test
1 month HIV 4th Generation Test - SD Bioline HIV Ag/Ab Combo - Fingerprick blood sampling. - 20 minutes to results
3 months HIV 3rd Generation Test - OraQuick® HIV-1/2 Antibody - Oral fluid or - Fingerprick blood sampling. - 20 minutes to results STD testing * - Full & comprehensive - diagnostic test - to look for current infections
Watch for HIV Symptoms STD Symptoms
If infected HIV Treatment STD Treatment Abortion
* Males: Do not urinate for at least 4 hours before arriving. * Females: testing is more accurate when you are not menstruating.


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