Secondary syphilis - Oral Mucosal Lesion
Secondary syphilis typically occurs 3-10 weeks after the appearance of the primary syphilitic chancre and results from hematologic or lymphatic dissemination of the treponemes. There may be mucocutaneous as well as systemic disease.
Secondary syphilis can present with varied manifestations. Patients generally develop constitutional symptoms including malaise, appetite loss, fever, headache, stiff neck, myalgias, pharyngitis, and flu-like symptoms. Generalized lymphadenopathy is typically present. Cutaneous manifestations of secondary syphilis may include a generalized rash that includes the palms and soles. Patchy alopecia or telogen effluvium can be present. Ocular symptoms may include lacrimation, photophobia, and red, painful eyes.
Oral lesions of secondary syphilis can take the form of mucous patches and "snail-track" ulcers. The latter are confluent mucous patches that form a serpiginous outline. The median age of patients with acquired oral syphilis is in the third and fourth decades of life (aged 20s-30s). The oral locations involved may include the tongue, palate, lips, buccal mucosa, and labial commissure. Condylomata lata (gray, flat, moist papules and plaques) may be seen in moist anogenital locations or in the mouth. They are teeming with spirochetes and are, therefore, extremely infectious.
The lesions of secondary syphilis resolve in 3-12 weeks, with or without treatment. If left untreated, up to 25% of patients will relapse within the first 2 years.
Immunocompromised patient considerations: HIV infection can alter the clinical presentation of syphilis. Manifestations include multiple chancres, atypical cutaneous eruptions, increased severity of organ involvement (such as hepatitis and glomerulonephritis), and rapidly developing arteritis and neurosyphilis. Neurosyphilis can occur at any stage of syphilis.
Related topics: primary syphilis, tertiary syphilis, early congenital syphilis, late congenital syphilis, ocular syphilis
A51.39 – Other secondary syphilis of skin
240557004 – Secondary syphilis
Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls