Stages of Syphilis
There are four stages of syphilis: primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary. The first stage typically begins 3 weeks after infection and is characterized by small painless sores called chancres. As the disease progresses, a rash may develop on the palms of the hands and the bottoms of the feet. In the last stages of syphilis, symptoms may not appear at all; when they do, they are usually serious, causing damage throughout the body.
The four stages of syphilis include:
- Primary syphilis
- Secondary syphilis
- Latent syphilis
- Tertiary syphilis.
Primary syphilis is the first stage of syphilis. Symptoms during this stage usually start about 3 weeks after a person becomes infected with the syphilis bacteria (Treponema pallidum), but the range is from 10 to 90 days. The first symptom of primary syphilis is often a single, small, round, painless sore, called a chancre.
Because chancres are usually painless and can occur inside the body, a person might not notice it. The chancre disappears in about 3 to 6 weeks whether or not a person is treated.
Many people with the condition develop symptoms of second-stage syphilis, because it is quite easy to overlook the symptoms of primary syphilis and not seek treatment right away.
In this stage of syphilis, symptoms can begin 2 to 10 weeks after the chancre sore appears. The most common symptom is a rash on the palms of the hands and the bottoms of the feet.