Treatment of Syphilis

By  , Expert Content
Sep 21, 2011

Syphilis is a common sexually transmitted disease. The term sexually transmitted disease means that the disease spreads from one person to other by vaginal, anal, or oral sexual contact. Syphilis is difficult to diagnose but is easy to cure in its early stages.


  • Patients in the primary, secondary, and early latent phases of syphilis (that is who have syphilis for probably less than a year) are treated with a single injection of penicillin. This can cure the disease. If you are allergic to penicillin (and not pregnant) your doctor will prescribe oral antibiotics such as doxycycline, tetracycline, or erythromycin for 2 weeks.
  • People in the late latent and tertiary stages of syphilis are given 3 injections of penicillin; one injection every week. In case you are allergic to penicillin (and not pregnant) your doctor will prescribe oral antibiotics; most likely doxycycline, or tetracycline for 2 weeks.
  • People who have brain involvement due to syphilis (that is neurosyphilis) are treated with IV penicillin every 4 hours for 10-14 days. An alternative to this is one injection of long acting penicillin once per day with oral probenecid (4 times a day) for 10-14 days.
  • If a pregnant woman has syphilis, penicillin is considered as the drug of choice even if she is allergic to it. The doctor will allow for desensitisation procedures before starting treatment with penicillin.
  • Some people develop a Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction about 2-12 hours after treatment with penicillin as a result of dying bacteria. The reaction may cause transient worsening of the symptoms. The reaction appears alarming but it usually ends within 24 hours. Treatment for the reaction includes bed rest, pain relievers (such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen), and liquids.


Your doctor after examination and tests will determine the stage of syphilis and then prescribe treatment. If you have symptoms suggestive of syphilis, consult a doctor. Do not try any home remedies or over-the-counter drugs as these are not effective in curing syphilis. Treatment for syphilis kills the bacterium, cures the disease and prevents further damage, but the damage that is already done will not be repaired. People with syphilis should get their sexual partners also screened and if needed, treated for syphilis. If you are on treatment for syphilis, abstain from sexual contact with any new partners till all the sores are completely healed.


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