Syphilis treatment | How do you treat syphilis?
Table of Contents
- Written by Hannah Kingston - Updated on September 7, 2021
- Medically reviewed by Dr Andrea Pinto Lopez, M.D.
Syphilis treatment in the early stages of the condition is relatively straightforward to treat.
Penicillin is the most common treatment for syphilis, and it can be used to treat syphilis at all stages of the condition including primary, secondary, latent and tertiary stages.
Penicillin is an antibiotic that is used to kill the organism which causes syphilis, Treponema pallidum. Syphilis treatment is usually administered via a single injection and/or antibiotics in tablet form.
Antibiotics in the form of tablets may also be prescribed for a 10-28 day period depending on the stage of syphilis.
Those who are allergic to penicillin may be administered another antibiotic which has the same effect or recommend penicillin desensitization.
The type of syphilis treatment that is recommended per person will depend on the stage of syphilis they are experiencing. Let’s break it down.
Primary syphilis treatment
A single intramuscular injection of penicillin can be used to treat syphilis. Patients who are allergic to penicillin may receive an oral antibiotic called doxycycline for 14 days.
Secondary syphilis treatment
It is recommended that patients have a single injection of penicillin or a 10-14 day course of antibiotics in tablet form.
Latent syphilis treatment
In early-latent stages, i.e. less than one year, it is recommended that patients have a single injection of penicillin or a 10-14 day course of antibiotics in tablet form.
In later-latent stages, if a person has had syphilis for over two years, they may require more than three injections or a 28 day course of antibiotics in tablet form.
Tertiary syphilis treatment
In the tertiary stages, patients may require further and more advanced treatments involving three doses of penicillin at weekly intervals, or a 28 day course of doxycycline in tablet form.
Additional treatment for health complications that may occur during the tertiary stages may also be necessary during the tertiary stages. Although antibiotics can still clear the infection during tertiary syphilis, they can’t undo the damage that has been done to the body.
How do you treat syphilis?
Penicillin injection is the most common treatment for syphilis.
Once syphilis treatment has been administered, it is common for your doctor to recommend:
- Periodic blood tests to ensure that you have responded to the treatment. The number of follow-up tests will depend on the stage of syphilis you experienced.
- No sexual contact with new partners until the treatment has been completed and the infection has been cleared.
- That all previous sexual partners are notified so they can get tested and receive treatment if necessary.
- A HIV test
Some patients may experience the Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction to the treatment. Symptoms of a Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction include a fever, aches, nausea, headache and chills. The side-effects of treatment should they occur usually do not last for more than one day.
How long does it take to cure syphilis?
The length of time it takes to cure syphilis will depend on the stage of syphilis you are being treated for.
Syphilis that has lasted less than two years usually requires one injection or a 10-14 day course of antibiotics in tablet form.
Syphilis that has lasted more than two years usually requires three injections or a 28 day course of antibiotics in tablet form.
According to the NHS, more serious cases of syphilis that affect the brain will need to be treated with daily penicillin injections given into the buttocks or a vein for two weeks, or a 28 course of antibiotic tablets.
How long can you live with syphilis?
Left untreated, syphilis can remain dormant in the body for decades.
Can syphilis go away on its own?
Syphilis does not go away on its own. Though the symptoms of syphilismay heal over time, the infection can remain dormant in the body for years and even decades.
If detected early, syphilis can easily be treated. It’s important for it to get treated early because if left overtime, it can lead to serious problems.
What is one of the first signs of syphilis?
A painless sore known as a chancre is usually the first sign of syphilis. This sore may develop on the head or shaft of the penis in men and the vagina, vulva and cervix of women.
The chancre may also develop on the buttocks, anus or upper thighs of both men and women.
How long can you have syphilis without knowing?
You could have syphilis for up to 30 years without realizing given that the symptoms can be so subtle. This is why it is so important to ensure that you attend regular sexual health screenings.
The symptoms of syphilis usually present in primary or secondary syphilis but as we have outlined, these symptoms can be difficult to spot.
What are the symptoms of late stage syphilis?
The symptoms of later stage syphilis may not be present. In the latent stage, there are no symptoms as the bacteria continues to multiply. In tertiary syphilis, a new health complication may arise due to the fact that it was not treated earlier.
These conditions may affect the brain, nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver, bones and joints
Can you get syphilis without being sexually active?
You can get syphilis without having sex. Coming into close contact with an infected person’s genital, mouth or rectum could lead you to contracting syphilis.
Written by Hannah Kingston on May 3, 2021
- Syphilis - mayoclinic.org
- Treatment, Syphilis - nhs.uk
- How does a syphilis test work? - stdwatch.com
- Syphilis symptoms | What are the symptoms of syphilis?- stdwatch.com
- What is the best at home STD test? - stdwatch.com
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