Syphilis or “syph” is a common sexually transmitted bacterial infection (STI). Syphilis is easily cured with antibiotics, but it can cause permanent damage if you don’t get treated. It usually starts by causing painless sores or rashes on the skin, but over time it can become much more serious.
How do you get syphilis?
Syphilis is spread through contact with sores (called chancres) or other symptoms of syphilis. It can be spread by having oral, vaginal, or anal sex, or by kissing someone who has a syphilis sore on their mouth. Syphilis can be spread even if no one cums.
Syphilis isn’t spread by simply touching someone, so you CAN’T get it from sharing food or drinks, hugging, holding hands, coughing, sneezing, sharing towels, or sitting on toilet seats.
What does it look like?
The signs of syphilis can be so mild that you may never notice them. The first sign is a painless sore. This sore can be on or near the vagina, penis, mouth, or anus. It heals by itself even if it is not treated, but unless you get treated, you will still have syphilis.
After a few weeks or months without getting treated, you may have a rash on the palms of your hands or soles of your feet, swollen glands, joint pain, fever, hair loss, sore throat, or headaches. These signs may also go away without treatment, but you still have the disease.
How do I get tested?
Healthcare providers may look at any sores or other symptoms you have to see if they are syphilis. If you don’t have symptoms, your doctor may also take a small sample of blood from you to test for syphilis.
How do I deal with it?
If you have syphilis, a doctor will give you an antibiotic shot. To keep from infecting your partners, you should avoid sex until you have taken all the antibiotics and your partner has been tested and treated if necessary. Still, prevention is always better than cure. If you’re going to have sex, make sure to use a condom even if your partner seems totally healthy.