Treponema Pallidum: An In-Depth Guide

Treponema pallidum is a microaerophilic bacterium of the spirochetal order and a subspecies of the genus Treponema.

Treponema pallidum has a thick phospholipid membrane and a slow rate of metabolism, taking about thirty hours to multiply; despite this, Treponema pallidum is a difficult-to-eradicate pathogen that causes the sexually transmitted disease known as syphilis.

Treponema Pallidum: An In-Depth Guide

What Is Syphilis?

As previously stated, Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by Treponema pallidum.

If it is not diagnosed for years, it can cause numerous bodily complications, particularly in vital organs, which can lead to death.

There are two types of infections: active and inactive.

Obviously, the disease manifests itself in active syphilis, whereas in inactive syphilis, the person does not manifest symptoms but carries the disease itself.

Syphilis Causes

The disease is most commonly transmitted through sexual contact. Many people contract syphilis through sexual contact with another person who has the disease.

Sexual intercourse encompasses all forms of intercourse, such as genital, oral, and anal.

As a result, even those who engage in oral or anal sex can contract the disease.

The disease process begins when the infected person’s sore comes into contact with the uninfected person’s mucus membranes.

Syphilis Symptoms

Syphilis progresses in stages, with symptoms varying with each. However, the stages can overlap and symptoms do not always appear in the same order.

You could be infected with syphilis for years without noticing any symptoms.


A small sore is the first sign of syphilis and will be where the bacteria first entered your body. While the majority of those infected with syphilis develop only one sore, some develop several.

The sore typically appears three weeks after contracting the disease. Many people with syphilis are unaware of their sore because it is usually painless and can be hidden within the vagina or rectum.

Within three to six weeks, the sore will heal on its own.


Within a few weeks of the original sore healing, you may develop a rash that starts on your trunk and spreads to cover your entire body, including the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet.

The rash is typically not itchy, but it may be accompanied by wart-like sores in your genital area or mouth. Muscle aches, hair loss, sore throat, fever, and swollen lymph nodes are also common symptoms.

These symptoms may disappear in a few weeks or reoccur for up to a year.


If treatment is not given for syphilis, the disease progresses from the secondary to the latent stage, during which you have no symptoms.

The dormant stage can last for many years. The symptoms and signs may never come back, or the syphilis may develop to the tertiary stage.


About a third of people infected with syphilis who do not receive treatment will develop tertiary syphilis complications. The disease can eventually damage the brain, eyes, nerves, liver, heart, blood vessels, joints, and bones.

These issues can arise many years after the initial, untreated infection.


Syphilis can progress at any stage and cause damage to the brain, nervous system, and eyes, among other things.


Babies born to syphilis-infected mothers can get the disease during birth or via the placenta.

The majority of babies with congenital syphilis have no symptoms, though some develop a rash on their feet and hands.

Syphilis Treatment

Syphilis is easily cured when treated in its early stages. Penicillin, an antibiotic that can defeat organisms that causes syphilis, is the favored treatment at all stages.

If you are allergic to penicillin, your doctor may recommend a different antibiotic or penicillin desensitization.

If you are pregnant, it is especially important to seek treatment because the disease could be passed on to your fetus or newborn.

Once you’ve finished your treatment, the antibiotics will kill the bacteria that causes syphilis and prevent any further complications from occurring as a result of that specific case. 

However, it is critical to understand that the treatment cannot reverse or heal previous damage.


Treponema pallidum is a microaerophilic bacterium that is responsible for the sexually transmitted disease, syphilis.

Unfortunately, someone can suffer from syphilis for years without knowing it and therefore will spread it to others without realizing it.

This is also unfortunate as it is much easier to cure syphilis when it is in its early stages. 

The symptoms which you will have with syphilis depend on what stage it is as and even then; they may not happen in order.

However, the most common symptoms include small sores that look a bit like blisters but are not sore, white patches inside the mouth, and a red rash on the hands and soles of the feet.

Jennifer Dawkins

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