Syphilis progresses in stages and its symptoms vary with its stage. Sometimes the stage may coincide and the symptoms will not manifest in the same order.

Primary syphilis. The first sign of syphilis is a small sore also called chancre and it appears on the very spot where the bacterium entered the body. Although many manifest one sore others manifest more. It usually occurs about three to four weeks after a person contracts the bacteria. Many patients fail to notice it because most of the times it is painless and hidden inside the vagina or the rectum . The sore heals by itself within 6 weeks.

Secondary syphilis. Within a few weeks from the healing of the initial sore a rash may develop initially on the trunk and then on the whole body even on the palms and soles. This rash is usually itchy less and may be accompanied by lesions looking like warts inside the mouth or in the genital area. Some patients also manifest muscle aches, fever, sore throat and swollen lymph nodes. These symptoms can subside completely within a few weeks and relapse many times during one year.

Latent syphilis. If the patient receives no treatment then the disease progresses from the secondary to the latent phase, where there are no symptoms. This stage can last for years. The symptoms may never reappear but the disease can move to the tertiary stage.

Tertiary syphilis. Almost 15-30% of the patients who do not don’t receive treatment for syphilis manifest complications which in the final stages of the disease may harm the brain, nerves, heart, blood vessels, liver, bones and the joints. These problems may manifest many years after the initial infection. Depending on its location the diseases takes the corresponding name the most characteristic being cardiovascular syphilis, neurosyphilis and syphilis of the bones.

Congenital syphilis. Babies born from mothers infected by syphilis is possible to be infected through the placenta or during the delivery. Most infants with congenital syphilis are asymptomatic although some of them manifest rash on the palms and soles. If the disease progresses it can cause deafness and malformations on the teeth and nose.