[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Other Conditions With Symptoms Similar to Syphilis


Syphilis causes symptoms that are very similar to those of many other diseases and are sometimes not recognized. Syphilis has historically been referred to as "the great imitator."

Symptoms of the primary stage of syphilis are similar to those of:

Symptoms of the secondary stage of syphilis are similar to:

  • A syndrome that causes eruptions of the skin and mucous membranes (erythema multiforme).
  • A type of skin inflammation that causes itching and large patches of scaly skin sores ( psoriasis ) or a type of psoriasis that is painless.
  • A skin rash caused by a viral infection or from being bitten by a tick ( Rocky Mountain spotted fever or Lyme disease ).
  • A condition called pityriasis rosea that causes a slightly scaling, pink, raised rash over the trunk and unexposed areas of the body.
  • A skin disease caused by the bites of insects, such as mites ( scabies ).
  • Initial infection with the human immunodeficiency virus ( HIV ).
  • A condition in which the blood vessels in the anus become inflamed and sore ( hemorrhoids ).
  • Cancer of the lymph system ( lymphoma ).
  • A disorder that causes body tissues to thicken ( sarcoidosis ).
  • Lupus , which can cause a skin rash, joint pains, and other symptoms.
  • Some types of genital warts , especially when they occur around the anus.

Symptoms of the tertiary (late) stage depend on the organ system affected. Symptoms may resemble those of:

Symptoms of syphilis that are present at birth (congenital syphilis) may be similar to:

  • German measles ( rubella ).
  • A herpes-type virus that causes serious illness in newborns ( cytomegalovirus ).
  • A skin disease that causes sores, usually in the mouth and nose ( impetigo ).


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Devika Singh, MD, MPH - Infectious Disease
Last Revised September 29, 2011

Last Revised: September 29, 2011

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.

More to explore

[an error occurred while processing this directive]