Syphilis (Lues)

is mainly a sexually transmitted bacterial disease.
Over the course of the syphilis, you find stages with and without symptoms. The earlier a syphilis infection is detected, the better it can be cured.

How Does Syphilis Progress?

The syphilis germs enter the body through the mucosa or superfine skin cracks. Symptoms may appear 2 to 3 weeks after the infection and disappear again. They are easily overlooked.. The syphilis then remains undetected and the germs can spread throughout the body.

If syphilis is not treated, it can cause severe damage to organs and the nervous system and be fatal. How Do I Possibly Know, That I Have Syphilis?

The following symptoms may occur on average

2 to 3 weeks after becoming infected:
A small (millet grain size) hardening, that develops into a firm, painless ulcer – called chancre – which contains a highly contagious fluid. Chancres may appear wherever the syphilis germs entered the body (mouth, rectum, vagina, penis, skin).

2 to 3 months after becoming infected:
Skin rashes (reddish spots) on different parts of the body, characteristically on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet, fever, swollen lymph nodes, patchy hair loss.

Years after becoming infected:
Severe damage to multiple organs, muscles, bones, blood vessels and brain.


Syphilis is a very contagious and easily transmitted disease.

It can be transmitted by:

  • sex (mouth, vagina, penis, anus)
  • kissing
  • petting and fisting
  • contact with blood or fluid from the ulcer
  • sharing sex toys and lubricants
  • the infected pregnant woman to her unborn child

How To Protect Yourself?

Syphilis germs can enter the body at almost any point and during any type of sex.
During oral sex, condoms and latex lickcloths (dental dams), that are placed on the vagina or on the anus, can protect you. Using latex gloves during petting or fisting may provide protection.

However, condoms, dental dams and gloves can only reduce the risk of infection. Therefore we recommend regular medical check-ups.

How to be diagnosed?

Syphilis can be detected by a blood test



Further Recommendations

  • In case of an infection, your sexual partners of the last three monthsshould be examined, even if they have no symptoms.
  • You should not have sex until the treatment is completed.
  • The success of the antibiotic treatment should be checked by another blood test.

Good To Know

People with syphilis have a significantly increased chance of contracting HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases.

The AIDS/STI counselling centres of the health authorities in NRW (North Rhine-Westphalia) offer anonymous and free counselling and tests for syphilis.

Counselling Offices

Testing Services

Good To Know

Being infected with syphilisincreases the risk of catching HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases.

We, the staff members of the counseling centers on HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STI) are there for you. We offer confidential, anonymous and free counseling and testing on syphilis.

Counselling Offices

Testing Services