Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. It’s primarily spread through sexual contact and usually starts off as a painless sore on your genitals, rectum or mouth [1].

See also: What are the Most Common Sexually Transmitted Infections?

Syphilis symptoms

Syphilis commonly occurs in stages and the symptoms are dependent on the stage. Although the indicators aren’t always obvious, some of the most common for each stage include [2]:

Primary syphilis

  • Painless and small sore at the site of infection

Secondary syphilis

  • Skin rash
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever

Latent syphilis

If you aren’t treated for syphilis, the infection moves from the secondary stage to the latent stage where there are no noticeable signs or symptoms.

See also: Can an STI go Undetected?

Tertiary stage

According to Mayo Clinic, about 15-30% of people with syphilis who don’t receive treatment will develop complications referred to as tertiary, or late, syphilis [3].

These complications can include:

  • Damage to the brain nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver, bones and joints

What does syphilis look like?

One of the first indicators of syphilis is a small chancre, commonly referred to as a sore. This sore usually occurs around the genitals, rectum or mouth and appears firm, round and painless.

One of the best ways to know more about your sexual health is through regular screening. This can be done with a trip to your local doctor or from home with an at-home lab test.

LetsGetChecked’s range of at home Sexual Health Tests detect some of the most common sexually transmitted infections with online results available within 2-5 days. Our medical team will be available 24/7 to answer any questions you may have and should you test positive, a prescription will be provided free of charge.

See also: How do you Check for STDs From Home?


  1. Mayo Clinic. Syphilis. Online:, 2019
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Syphilis - STD Fact Sheet. Online:, 2017
  3. Mayo Clinic. Syphilis. Online:, 2019