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Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by bacteria.



  • Ibuprofen or acetaminophen: These medicines decrease pain and lower a fever. They are available without a doctor's order. Ask your primary healthcare provider which medicine is right for you. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. These medicines can cause stomach bleeding if not taken correctly. Ibuprofen can cause kidney damage. Do not take ibuprofen if you have kidney disease, an ulcer, or allergies to aspirin. Too much acetaminophen can cause liver damage. Do not drink alcohol if you take acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

  • Antibiotic: This is given to kill the bacteria that caused your syphilis. It is usually given as a shot. You may need more than one dose.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Treatment reaction:

You may have a reaction within the first day after treatment. Symptoms include a fever, chills, nausea, rash, and a headache. This happens as the antibiotic starts to kill the bacteria that caused your syphilis. It is not an allergic reaction to the antibiotics. These symptoms usually get better in 1 or 2 days.

Follow up with your primary healthcare provider or STD clinic as directed:

You may need to return for blood tests to make sure your infection is completely gone. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Prevent the spread of syphilis:

  • Tell your sexual partners about your syphilis: Tell everyone you have had sex with in the past 3 months. They need to be checked for infection and may need treatment.

  • Do not have sex until treatment is complete: This usually takes at least 2 months. Your primary healthcare provider will tell you when you can resume sexual activity.

  • Use protection: After your treatment is complete, use condoms and follow safe sex practices. This will help prevent the spread of syphilis and other STDs.

Get tested for HIV:

You are at increased risk of HIV if you have syphilis.

Contact your primary healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever or feel achy.

  • You are pregnant and think you have syphilis.

  • You have a new rash, sore throat, or swollen joint.

  • Your symptoms do not go away after treatment, or they come back.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have a headache and a stiff neck.

  • You feel weak, dizzy, or like you are going to faint.

  • You have shortness of breath.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Syphilis (Aftercare Instructions)