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Syphilis: Self-care

5 things to do if you’re diagnosed with syphilis

This disease is common, and it can be cured. If you find out that you have syphilis, dermatologists recommend that you:

  1. Get treated. With the right antibiotic, syphilis can be cured. Without treatment, syphilis can spread to other parts of your body, and eventually cause permanent damage. Having syphilis for a long time can cause hearing loss, heart damage, and many other health problems.

  2. Tell your sex partner(s) that you were diagnosed with syphilis. Some people find this difficult to do. Telling your sex partner(s) is important. It allows them to get tested and receive treatment, if necessary. Treatment also prevents your partner(s) from infecting you again or infecting other people.

    If you prefer, your local health department can work with you to tell your partners they need to be tested. Ask your doctor about this option. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), most partners don’t know that they have been exposed until notified by their partner, a doctor, or the health department.

    Tell your partner(s)

    If you’re diagnosed with syphilis, tell your partner(s) so that they can get tested.

    Man having serious talk with woman
  3. Stop having sex for at least one week and until:

    • You finish your treatment for syphilis.
    • Your symptoms go away.

  4. Use condoms and/or dental dams when you start having sex again. These help to prevent the spread of syphilis and other STDs.

  5. Keep your follow-up medical appointments. After you get treated for syphilis, you need blood tests to make sure you no longer have the disease. Some people need more than one shot of penicillin to cure syphilis. It’s also possible to get re-infected.

By following this self-care advice, you can make sure that you get cured and prevent spreading syphilis to others. That can help dramatically reduce the number of people who have syphilis.

Getty Images

Haran Chandrasekar PH. “Syphilis treatment and management.” Medscape. Updated Jul 18, 2017. Last accessed Apr 3, 2020.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Syphilis: Pocket guide for providers.” Last accessed Apr 3, 2020.