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STI symptoms: The sign in your mouth that can signal syphilis – ‘See a GP’

STIs: NHS gives advice on symptoms and prevention

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Syphilis is a well known STI, which if left untreated can lead to potentially life-threatening problems. These include heart failure and seizures, among other medical issues. The NHS advises going to a sexual health clinic or seeing a GP if you or a partner show any symptoms of the infection.

One sign to look out for is white patches in the mouth – that could mean you are infected with syphilis.

“The symptoms of syphilis are often mild and hard to notice,” the NHS explains.

“They tend to change over time and may come and go.”

The health service lists other syphilis symptoms to be aware of.

Small sores (ulcers) on your penis, vagina, or around your bottom (anus) – these are usually painless and you may only have one of them.

Sores in other areas, including in your mouth or on your lips, hands or bottom.

White or grey warty growths – most commonly on your penis, vagina or around your anus.

A rash on the palms of your hands and soles of your feet that can sometimes spread all over your body – this is not usually itchy.

Flu-like symptoms, such as a high temperature, headaches and tiredness.

Patchy hair loss on the head, beard and eyebrows.

It warns: “It can take three weeks or more for the symptoms of syphilis to appear after you’re infected.

“Sometimes the symptoms can improve or go away completely, but if you have not been treated the infection is still in your body.

“This means you can still pass it on and you’re at risk of getting serious problems later on.”

The infection is usually treated with a course of antibiotics.

But if left untreated it can result in a number of serious conditions including:

  • Heart problems like angina, aortic aneurysm and heart failure
  • Brain problems like fits (seizures), memory problems, personality changes and dementia
  • Nerve problems like shooting pains, pins and needles, joint pain and gradual damage the joints
  • Problems with the skin, bones, testicles, liver and any other organ.

“Some of these problems may not appear for many years after being infected with syphilis,” the NHS adds.

The most common way of getting syphilis is by having unprotected sex with someone who’s infected.

Therefore, the use of condoms is recommended to prevent getting infected.

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