Syphilis is a serious disease transmitted mainly through sexual contact. It has three stages of development: primary, almost asymptomatic, secondary, when most internal organs are affected, and tertiary, when the disease covers the entire body and starts destructive processes in cells.
Secondary syphilis is characterized by the release of the pathogen from the lymph nodes and penetration into the bloodstream. Further, pale treponema affects most of the vital organs and skin, which is manifested by vivid symptoms.
Main characteristics of the stage
The main signs of secondary syphilis:
- an increase in body temperature to 37.0 – 37.2 degrees;
- slight pain in the muscles and articular joints;
- increased muscle discomfort at night;
- weakness, fatigue.
A bright external symptom is the appearance of specific rashes in all areas of the skin, most mucous membranes and in some important internal organs. The secondary stage is the longest, it lasts for two to five years (it all depends on the strength of the patient’s immunity). It is characterized by a change of relapses and periods of persistent, asymptomatic remission.
If the diagnosis is not made, and the man or woman is not aware of their illness, such signs are usually stopped on their own with the help of symptomatic drugs: painkillers, antipyretics, anti-inflammatory ointments for external use. Such an approach to one’s own health turns into a transition of the disease to a more severe stage, since a postponed visit to the doctor leads to the defeat and destruction of all new internal systems of the body.
If the full and correct treatment of this stage is not carried out, syphilis passes into the tertiary stage. Rashes (syphilitic gummas) become deeper and more extensive, and after their disintegration, large defects in appearance appear (a collapsed nose, a destroyed palate). Treponema pale reaches the cells of the brain, causing irreversible damage to its cortex , then the spinal cord is destroyed, the musculoskeletal system is disturbed, and the person becomes a paralyzed invalid, gradually degrading mentally. It is almost impossible to help the patient at this stage, therefore it is also called terminal.
IMPORTANT! The only effective way to deal with syphilis is to diagnose it at an earlier stage and complete the full course of treatment prescribed by a qualified specialist.
Clinical manifestations of the secondary period
The symptoms of secondary syphilis are diverse, and, at first glance, patients do not notice the connection between them and a possible sexual infection. A long period of flow, in which most of the time a man or women do not complain about their well-being, is first replaced by rare relapses, easily stopped by symptomatic drugs.
Patients cannot associate the rash with a severe infection, attributing it to allergy symptoms, exposure to household chemicals or cosmetics, irritation from insect bites, etc. Pathology is detected by chance, when undergoing a routine preventive examination or visiting a doctor with manifestations of another disease.
The course of the secondary stage
- Fresh syphilis – the primary appearance of a rash, a slight lesion of the skin. Often, a hard chancre remains at the site of the lesions – spots similar to birthmarks, which after a while disappear on their own. The results of clinical diagnostics at this stage are positive, that is, they accurately determine the presence of treponema pale in the body.
- Recurrent secondary syphilis – a repetition of episodes of the disease at least 1-2 times a year, while each new exacerbation is less pronounced: syphilides become rarer, paler. Five years after the onset of the secondary stage, periods of relapse disappear.
External symptoms – rashes on different parts of the body – this is the only visible manifestation of syphilis. It is possible to see lesions of the mucous membrane of the digestive system, respiratory organs, and urogenital regions only with the help of a visual examination of the body, which people rarely resort to, mainly to diagnose other pathologies. Therefore, the secondary period is characterized by a constant deterioration in human health.
The presence of a serious infection can be suspected by the following manifestations:
- rash on the skin, mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, genitals;
- the formation of first dense rashes (syphilis), turning into deep ulcers and erosion;
- hair loss (diffuse or focal);
- the appearance of excessive pigmentation of the skin.
If, after the penetration of the pathogen into the body, the patient began taking antibiotics to treat another disease, the period of the secondary course may be completely asymptomatic. This will further aggravate his condition, as a latent infection will develop, which only clinical studies can reveal.
The rash with secondary syphilis is called “spotted syphilis.” This symptom develops in 90% of those infected with treponema pallidum. It may look like small specks of various shades of red – from light pink, almost flesh-colored, to burgundy. They occur on the epidermis or mucous membranes. Most often, syphilides are found on the sides of the body or in the upper abdomen, the rest of the body is considered atypical for syphilis, but they can also suffer from infection.
Syphilides are divided into several types. The most common – roseola, looks like a speck with blurry contours, with a diameter of two to fifteen millimeters. Phenomena are located individually, there is no tendency to merge. Touching them does not cause pain or discomfort, a person does not feel changes in general well-being. The surface of roseola is located just above the epidermis, and when you press it, the color changes to flesh. When healing, there is no peeling, which is also a clear indication of syphilis.
The life span of roseola is 4-6 days. At the first appearance, they are arranged symmetrically, with repeated recurrence, their size increases and the location becomes chaotic. They can form threads, rings, pads, do not heal for several weeks or even months, and then disappear without the use of any drugs.
The next stage in the development of the disease is the formation of papules. Their appearance is characteristic of secondary recurrent syphilis, the joint occurrence of papules and roseola is rare. Papule – a dense formation of an oval or round shape, protruding above the dermis and characterized by damage to the deeper layers of the skin. They persist for one to two months, then disappear, leaving a pigment spot.
If the infected person suffers from severe chronic pathologies (HIV, AIDS, hepatitis), pustules “join” the papules – purulent elements of various sizes and densities. A few days later, a purulent “head” is formed in the center of them, after the breakthrough of which, the gray-yellow contents of the pustule flow out, which has a high contagiousness – the ability to further infection.
Pustules appear both on the skin itself and in the mouths of the sebaceous glands, forming acne syphilides. Syphilitic ecthymas are considered the most severe form : their appearance occurs in the first half of the secondary stage, and is accompanied by a sharp deterioration in the patient’s health. Outwardly , ecthyma resembles a deep red pimple, which, after maturation and breakthrough, spews pus. After the breakthrough of the pustules, they are covered with a crust, in place of which scars and scars later remain.
The appearance of a rash is usually accompanied by hair loss. It can be general or focal, when baldness covers entire areas of the skin of the body and head. A phenomenon occurs as a result of the destruction of the hair follicles by the infectious agent: inflammation in the hair root leads to the loss of nutrition by the bulb, its death. The dimensions of the bald spot are small – about one and a half centimeters in diameter, the edges are uneven, arranged randomly, there is no tendency to merge.
IMPORTANT! Alopecia (as baldness is called in medicine) is usually manifested by round bald patches on the temples and crown of the patient or on the back of the head.
Complete hair loss in the affected area does not occur, peeling on the skin is also absent, which is a fundamental difference from fungal infections that also lead to baldness.
With diffuse alopecia, hair loss is observed on the entire surface of the body or head. The hair of the infected person becomes thinner, the loss begins from the temporal zone and gradually covers the entire head. The general condition of the hair also changes – they grow dull, become dry, brittle. The cause of baldness is the formation of roseola on the head or areas of the body that have dense vegetation.
IMPORTANT! A feature of syphilitic alopecia is the restoration of hair growth a couple of months after their loss.
Establishing a diagnosis even after the appearance of visible signs of infection can be difficult, including for an experienced specialist: the appearance of roseola is similar to rashes of other bacterial diseases, such as measles, typhoid, rubella. The only difference is the general state of human health: its deterioration, manifestations of fever, a decrease in general tone are not observed, as well as violations of the functioning of internal systems.
The appearance of large syphilides, many doctors attribute to signs of skin pathologies, usually accompanied by uncomfortable and painful symptoms. An accurate diagnosis can only be established by the clinical method, by examining the discharged contents of pustules and papules, where a large amount of the pathogen is present.
In addition to scraping, which allows analyzing the contents of the rash, patients are prescribed general blood and urine tests, venous blood sampling for immunological studies, hormone analysis, and bacterial culture of urine. Such a complex of studies makes it possible to determine with high accuracy the presence of treponema pale in the body and the duration of its penetration into the human body.
Therapy for secondary syphilis
Treatment of secondary syphilis is necessarily carried out with the use of antibiotics. Its type, form and dosage are selected by the attending physician individually for each patient. The correct dose of the drug is very important, since if the concentration of the active component is insufficient, the pathogen will lose sensitivity to it. Treponema pale will change its biological form and “hide”, making itself felt at the end of the prescribed treatment.
It is best to treat syphilis with antibiotics of the penicillin series: it is to them that the resistance of treponema is minimal. Intramuscular injection of the selected drug is shown, the course of treatment is 6-10 injections, which are administered once or twice a week. In the presence of severe complications, frequent relapses or the appearance of the first signs of the tertiary stage, the therapy is increased. Such patients are shown daily administration of the drug intravenously. The latent form of the disease is treated with the introduction of penicillin every three to six hours for twenty days.
IMPORTANT! Syphilis is an infectious disease, and it is impossible to cure it with traditional medicine methods. Non-traditional recipes are suitable only for strengthening immunity and combating the consequences of the disease at the end of drug therapy.
In the fight against severe manifestations of infection, it is desirable to hospitalize the patient. This will enable doctors to administer drugs at the right time and monitor the condition of the infected. Patient monitoring is very important, as some people have individual intolerance to penicillin. Being in the hospital will help to notice the development of an allergic reaction in a timely manner, stop the attack and choose an alternative treatment.
Syphilis rarely appears alone; it is usually accompanied by other pathogenic microorganisms: chlamydia, ureaplasma , mycoplasma, etc. Therefore, therapy is prescribed as a complex one, and some of the drugs that make up it are designed to fight other dangerous bacteria.
Hepatoprotectors will help protect liver cells from the action of antibiotics, restore the intestinal microflora – lactobacilli, and strengthen the body’s defenses – vitamin-mineral complexes and immunomodulatory drugs.
At the end of treatment, it is important to prevent re-infection with the virus. To do this, people who have had syphilis are recommended to take courses of preventive medical therapy, use barrier contraceptives, and strengthen the immune system.
It is also important to follow the rules of personal hygiene, use individual household items (dishes, towels, razors, washcloths, toothbrushes, etc.). It is recommended to undergo preventive examinations twice a year, and if the first signs of deterioration in health appear, immediately consult a doctor. This will help to identify the pathology at an early stage, which guarantees a successful fight against it.