• > 6 million new cases of syphilis are reported every year
  • It is one of the leading sexually transmitted diseases in the U.S.
  • Rashes on the palms and soles could be a warning sign

More than 6 million new cases of syphilis are reported every year. Syphilis, a sexually transmitted bacterial infection is one of the leading sexually transmitted infections in the United States. When left untreated, it can lead to serious complications including serious damages to the brain, heart nervous system and death.

Symptoms of this sexually transmitted infection (STI) could be difficult to notice and they come and disappear over time. The best way to find out if you have it is to get tested. It can sometimes be sneaky since you or your sexual partner might not exhibit any symptoms. In most cases, individuals don’t even realize that they have been infected with it.

Also, the signs of syphilis could be so mild that it might not even be noticeable. Quite often people mistake the symptoms to certain dermatological conditions such as pimples or skin rashes.

At the primary stage, syphilis can exhibit symptoms including sores or chancres that appear firm, round and painless. You might find chancres on vulva, vagina, anus, penis, scrotum or sometimes around the mouth. Deep hidden sores in the vagina, foreskin or rectum can also show up. Such sores are highly contagious can easily spread through sexual intercourse. People often mistake it for ingrown hair, pimple or a harmless bump. Since they are painless ones, it might be hard to notice them, especially when they show up on hidden places.

Symptoms to watch out for: Rashes on the palms and soles

This occurs at a secondary stage and these rashes are hardly visible and they do not itch. People might often feel sick and experience flu-like symptoms including tiredness, fever, sore throat, swollen glands, muscle pain, and headache. Vaginal or anal sores, mouth sores, and weight loss could also be experienced.

These symptoms could last for 2-6 weeks and might come and go for up to 2 years. Syphilis symptoms can sometimes mimic that of other common illnesses and can thereby be hard to differentiate. This is why it is important to get tested for STIs.

When identified at its early stages, syphilis is easily curable. But it can still be cured even if you get treated late. But you might experience complications from late-stage syphilis for two decades after getting infected.

Syphilis is on the rise in the United States.
A nurse takes blood from a man who got a free HIV test on a bus in Tehran Dec. 16, 2015. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi/TIMA