Secondary Syphilis


Secondary Syphilis, Condyloma Lata, Condyloma Latum, Syphilitic Alopecia, Lues Maligna, Ulceronodular Syphilis, Malignant Syphilis

  • Course
  1. Begins 2 to 8 weeks following onset of Chancre
  2. Follows 3-6 weeks asymptomatic period after Chancre resolves but before Secondary Syphilis manifestations
  • Symptoms
  • Nonspecific
  • Signs
  1. Highly infectious lesions can occur on mucus membrane
  2. Generalized Lymphadenopathy
  3. Papulosquamous Dermatosis
    1. Characteristics
      1. Pale, pink to red discrete round Macular to papular lesions
      2. Scaling over surface
    2. Size: "Nickels and Dimes"
      1. Papules <1cm (Dimes): Usually 5-10 mm
      2. Plaques >1cm (Nickels)
    3. Distribution
      1. Starts on trunk and flexor extremity surfaces (may be absent, with only palm and sole lesions)
      2. Progresses to involve symmetric lesions on palms and soles
  4. Condyloma Lata
    1. Painless, wart-like lesions
    2. Papules coalesce, macerate and may form flat, moist lesions
      1. Highly infectious, teaming with Spirochetes
    3. Become large, flat highly contagious lesions
      1. Involves moist areas
      2. Involves mouth, genitalia and intertriginous areas (perineum, axilla, between toes)
  5. Syphilitic Alopecia (up to 12% of Secondary Syphilis cases)
    1. Alopecia with moth-eaten appearance
  • Complications
  1. Lues Maligna (Ulceronodular Syphilis, Malignant Syphilis)
    1. Severe form of Secondary Syphilis (especially in immunosuppressed patients)
  2. Hepatitis
  3. Periostitis
  4. Nephropathy
  5. Uveitis or Iritis
  • Labs
  1. See Syphilis Testing
    1. Diagnostic blood testing is typically positive in Secondary Syphilis
  2. Dark field microscopy
    1. Indicated in Condyloma Lata and other skin lesions with direct pathogen infiltration
    2. Treponemes will be visible
  3. Other associated lab findings
    1. Serum transaminase elevations may occur (hepatitis)
  • Management
  • References
  1. Green, Cohen, Billington (2016) Crit Dec Emerg Med 30(11): 4-10
  2. Mattel (2012) Am Fam Physician 86(5): 433-40 [PubMed]