Syphilis evolves in 4 clinical stages.
Primary syphilis corresponds to the appearance of a cutaneous symptom: chancre. Chancre is a small round ulcer, pink, clean, not painful, indurated.
The chancre is visible if it is on the penis, on the testicles, at the level of the vulva, on the lips. But it can go unnoticed if it appears in the mouth, in the anus, in the vagina or on the cervix. It is accompanied by lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy) corresponding to the drainage area of the canker.
The chancre is contagious, it is full of pale treponemes.
Chancroid occurs after an incubation period of 3 weeks to 3 months after contact with the syphilitic person.
If the chancre is not spotted and the patient is not treated, syphilis will develop into secondary syphilis within a few months. Classically, general symptoms appear: fever, body aches, headaches, fatigue, etc. In the same way as cutaneous symptoms occur: peach blossom rash, lesions on the palms of the hands and feet, and lesions on the tongue (glossitis). The lesions contain the bacteria, they are contagious. This secondary syphilis may be latent, that is, syphilis may continue to evolve silently without the above-mentioned symptoms.
If this secondary syphilis is not treated vigorously, it will evolve in a few months or years towards the tertiary phase with major organic damage: brain, heart, liver, digestive tract, kidneys, eyes ... with other major symptoms.
At this tertiary stage syphilis is no longer contagious, but the patient is very affected.
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