Papulosquamous lesions on the palms. (Courtesy Steven H Goldberg, M Secondary syphilis. Papulosquamous lesions on the palms

About 8 weeks after the primary infection, lesions of secondary syphilis may develop. See also lues maligna.


The rash of secondary syphilis is diffuse and often involves the palms and soles. Lesions are symmetric and coppery red in color. Itch is uncommon. There is no herald patch as in pityriasis rosea. Many morphologies are possible including macular (roseolar), papular, papulosquamous, annular, nodular, pustular, and ulcerative. Other changes include moth-eaten alopecia, alopecia of the eyebrows, condyloma lata (moist plaques occurring perianally and genitally, mucous patches, paronychia, and split papules at the corners of the mouth.


The Syphilis Health Check test which uses a finger-stick blood sample has been approved by the FDA for use in the US by health care workers without special training. It takes only 12 minutes. If positive, a confirmatory blood test should be drawn.


The latest public health recommendations should be consulted. Previous recommendations include 2.4 million units of benzathine penicillin once intramuscularly. For those allergic to penicillin, the preferred treatment is desensitization to penicillin and subsequent penicillin treatment.

Additional Photos

Secondary syphilis. Mucosal patch on the tongue Secondary syphilis. alopecia of the eyebrow Secondary syphilis. mucosal ulceration Annular secondary syphilis

Nodular secondary syphilis in an HIV-positive patient reminiscent of split papules. The first picture is at presentation. The second is acute enlargement days after biopsy. The lesion melted away 3 days after penicillin treatment.
Nodular secondary syphilis Nodular secondary syphilis

syphilis of the penis


Annular lesions as well as condyloma lata. Virtual Grand Rounds in Dermatology

Moth-eaten alopecia. Dermatology Online Journal

Secondary Syphilis presenting as multiple ulcers for 3 weeks in an HIV positive man. Dermatology Online Journal 21(3)


Homepage | FAQs | Contact Dr. White

It is not the intention of to provide specific medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. only intends to provide users with information regarding various medical conditions for educational purposes and will not provide specific medical advice. Information on is not intended as a substitute for seeking medical treatment and you should always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider for diagnosis and for answers to your individual questions. Information contained on should never cause you to disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking treatment. If you live in the United States and believe you are having a medical emergency call 911 immediately.