Syphilis Differential Diagnoses

Updated: Jul 11, 2017
  • Author: Pranatharthi Haran Chandrasekar, MBBS, MD; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
  • Print

Diagnostic Considerations

Syphilis, a reportable disease, is tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Syphilis has an extensive differential diagnosis. In particular, the extremely variable manifestations of tertiary syphilis produce an extremely broad differential diagnosis, and care must be taken to consider syphilis in cardiac, dermatologic, and neurologic disorders as is relevant. Patients diagnosed with syphilis should also be tested for other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, bacterial vaginosis, and HIV infection.

When making a primary diagnosis of a generalized rash or an STD, always include syphilis in the differential diagnoses because of its varying manifestations. 

Other problems to consider

Other problems to consider include the following:

  • Brain tumors

  • Carcinoma

  • Congestive heart failure

  • Fungal infection (superficial and deep)

  • Lymphoma

  • Mycotic infection

  • Other CNS infections

  • Sarcoid

  • Seizures

  • Stroke

  • Trauma

  • Traumatic superinfected lesions

  • Venereal chlamydial infections

Differential Diagnoses