Syphilis is also called Syph, or "lues" (the Latin word for "plague")
or "hard chancre". It's caused by a bacterium named Treponema pallidum.
is a really insidious venereal disease and can have devastating
effects. Fortunately it responds well to special antibiotics and can be
cured - assuming it's recognized early enough. And that's not always
easy. Because syphilis goes through three distinct phases.
the beginning, in phase 1, the symptom is a painless, hard sore. Often
you don't notice it and it disappears again even if it's not treated.
few weeks later, phase 2 usually produces a rash. This can look like
measles. Or it can cause bigger, red-brown blotches and oozing patches
on the skin. The skin sores, the oozing secretion and the blood now
contain a particularly large number of syphilis bacteria. This is the
stage at which it's especially easy to catch syphilis even from close
Phase 3 can last many years and produces no
more external signs of the disease. The infected person is no longer
contagious. But the effects in the body are very serious, including
possible blindness and mental disability.
So whenever you find
a sore on your body or a skin rash you really must go to the doctor. Or
if you notice a rash or weeping patches of skin on a woman you've had
sex with. Tell the doctor you want to be tested for syphilis.
can protect yourself well against syphilis, but unfortunately not
completely, by using condoms. But most importantly, you should avoid
contact with wounds, blood and wound secretion. It's important, too, to
watch your own body carefully. Then, you'll notice any
suspicious-looking changes and can go to the doctor in good time.