What you need to know about syphilis

This month we focus on syphilis for our series what you need to know about…

What is syphilis?

Syphilis is a bacterial infection that’s usually caught by having sex with someone who’s infected. You can catch syphilis more than once, even if you’ve been treated for it before.

It’s important to get tested and treated as soon as possible if you think you might have syphilis, as it can cause serious problems if it’s left untreated.

How is syphilis spread?

Syphilis is spread through close contact with an infected sore. This usually happens during anal or oral sex, or by sharing sex toys with someone who’s infected.

What are the signs and symptoms?

The symptoms of syphilis aren’t always obvious and may eventually disappear, but you’ll usually remain infected unless you get treated. Some people with syphilis have no symptoms, so it’s important to get tested regularly when you have an active sex life. We recommended to get tested once every three months.

Symptoms can include:

  • small, painless sores or ulcers that typically appear on your penis or around the anus, but can occur in other places such as the mouth
  • a blotchy red rash that often affects the palms of the hands or soles of the feet
  • small skin growths (similar to genital warts) that may develop around the anus
  • white patches in the mouth
  • tiredness, headaches, joint pains, a high temperature (fever), and swollen glands in your neck, groin or armpits

What should I do?

If a recent sexual partner tells you they have syphilis, you should come and see us as quickly as possible. People with no symptoms can walk into Dean Street Express if it has been at least 4 weeks since your sexual contact. Less than 4 weeks we would offer you treatment at 56 Dean Street. It is important to get tested as soon as possible, because syphilis can lead to more serious long-term health problems if it’s not treated.

Please visit our appointments page if you need to come see us.