Options for treating syphilis vary according to the stage, symptoms, the patient's age and general health, and whether allergies exist. Penicillin is the most commonly prescribed drug for syphilis, regardless of the stage, but damage already done to body organs cannot be reversed. Following successful treatment, people can still be susceptible to reinfection and must have follow-up tests.
A healthcare provider's recommendations for the treatment of syphilis will depend on:
- The stage of the disease (see Stages of Syphilis)
- The symptoms (see Syphilis Symptoms)
- The patient's age and general health
- Any allergies the patient has (especially to penicillin).
Penicillin is the preferred drug for treating all stages of syphilis. For early treatment, penicillin may be injected into the muscle. For late treatment, penicillin may be given through an IV, and may need to be administered in the hospital.
If a person is allergic to penicillin, the healthcare provider may give another antibiotic to take by mouth. A person is more likely to need repeat syphilis treatment if he or she gets an antibiotic other than penicillin.
Damage already done to body organs cannot be reversed.
While a person is treating syphilis, it is recommended that he or she:
- Avoid any sexual activity during this time. Sexual contact should be avoided until the syphilis sores are completely healed.
- All sexual partners should be notified so that they can be tested and treated if necessary.
- Have follow-up tests at 6 months and 12 months after ending treatment. Some doctors recommend more frequent follow-up tests.