How do I catch syphilis?

You can catch syphilis through oral, vaginal or anal sex with a person who has syphilis.


It is transmitted through skin to skin contact with an infected area.


The chance of catching syphilis is greatly reduced by using condoms during sex. Condoms also protect you against other sexually transmissible infections.


Syphilis is highly contagious when the sore or rash is present.


More rarely, syphilis is transmitted from mother to baby during pregnancy.

What are the symptoms of syphilis?

  • You may have no symptoms, which is why regular screening is important
  • A rash
  • A hard, painless sore on genitals, around anus or in the mouth. Even though this sore might heal, if you have not had treatment you still have syphilis and could pass it on to others
  • An ulcer
  • Fevers, aches
  • General tiredness
  • Red sores
  • Swelling of glands in groin and armpits
  • Hair loss
  • Hearing loss

Syphilis Fact Sheet

Syphilis infections continue to rise. Could I have syphilis? Get tested early.

Get the facts about syphilis