Other infections

How is Syphilis Spread?

Maria Victoria Malela
By Maria Victoria Malela. Updated: October 16, 2020
How is Syphilis Spread?

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease that attacks the human body of someone who has come into contact with the bacteria Treponema pallidum during close contact with the genitals. When this occurs, the disease rapidly spreads through the body and leads to serious complications if left untreated. At OneHowTo, we discuss the various stages and the symptoms of the disease, so as to help you understand how is syphilis spread.

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  1. Primary stage
  2. Second stage
  3. Tertiary stage
  4. Prevention

Primary stage

Syphilis is spread through contact with the germs carried in infected sores. The spread of syphilis occurs through sexual intercourse and exchange of bodily fluids. Any person who exposes themselves through unprotected vaginal, anal and oral sex is at risk. That is why it is so important to know how to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases. Newborns can also become infected if their mother carries the disease. The first or primary stage of the infection is the presence of a sore, that is often painless and occurs 2 to 10 weeks, on the body part that has been infected by syphilis. The sore may eventually go away, however the disease is still present in the body and gradually moves on to the next stage of how syphilis is spread.

How is Syphilis Spread? - Primary stage

Second stage

The second stage of how syphilis is spread is characterized by the appearance of a skin rash that goes on to spreading on the entire body, palms and soles of the feet included. The rash can be red or reddish brown and usually does not itch. Wart-like sores may likewise develop in the mouth or the genital area, accompanied by fever-like symptoms, headaches, weight loss, muscle pain and fatigue. At this point, if left untreated, syphilis moves on to the next stage or tertiary stage.

Tertiary stage

The tertiary or latent stage of how syphilis is spread is particularly detrimental to the brain and other body parts such as the heart, the eyes, the bones and blood vessels, among others. It begins when the symptoms of the two primary stages have disappeared. The bacteria goes dormant and remains inactive until the individual, if left untreated, finally develops late stage syphilis. The third stage of how syphilis is spread is characterized by a severe attack on organs. The bacteria multiplies and spreads further in the body and can eventually result in mental disorder, blindness, paralysis, cardiovascular complications, tumors and death.


In all free stages of how syphilis is spread, it is treated with injections of penicillin. Complications can be prevented through blood tests and an honest assessment of one's sexual history.Treatment can stop syphilis but cannot reverse the damage done by the disease. Though the use of condom during sexual intercourse prevents the spread of syphilis, it is important to bear in mind that the infected sore can be hidden in areas that are not covered by the condoms and are therefore not always apparent. A treated individual may be at risk again, if they unsafely engage with an untreated partner.

Communication about your sexual history with your partner is important. Transparency is key.

How is Syphilis Spread? - Prevention

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to How is Syphilis Spread?, we recommend you visit our Diseases & secondary effects category.

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How is Syphilis Spread?