[Question #1370] Syphilis transmission

46 months ago

I went to a massage parlor and the woman sat naked on my back. Then I turned over for a handjob.  4 weeks later I noticed a small red spot on my skin.lower back, , It was flush with the skin., I was worried it was syphilis. I went to my doctor and he said it did not look like syphilis. He knew I have anxiety so he did a RPR blood test. It was non reactive,. This was done 7 weeks after my massage experience. I was still worried and anxious after the test, so I went to my moms house and let her see the spot on my lower back. She touched it, Now I am worried if it happened to be syphilis could she have been infected on her finger? She is 83 years old.She ended up with a sore on her side of the thumb by the knuckle.  Then she had what seemed to be a bad sinus infection. Fever, very sore throat. 1 year later she has developed a pain in her right knee  and tenderness by the joint. I cannot keep it out of my mind for over a year now that what I had might have been syphilis and when my mom looked at it  she touched it ,that is might have caused a transmission,  not sure that part of her finger would have touched the spot I had but it still worry's me.  Please help.. 


Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
46 months ago

Welcome to our Forum.  I will try to help.  I think you are4 worrying about something that is not the case.  While syphilis is transmitted by DIRECT CONTACT with infectious lesions, for someone to acquire syphilis is the manner you describe is incredibly unlikely.  Syphilis is a rare disease.  You do not mention seeing a lesion on your partner than might have been present in an area that contacted you when she sat on your back.  So,, for starters, there is no reason to think that you contacted a syphilitic lesion during the interaction you describe.

Then, 4 weeks later ( a bit late for a syphilis lesion to appear, typically if such lesions appear it is around 2-3 weeks) you noted a lesion on your back near the site of contact and wondered if it might be syphilis.  If it were syphilis, one would expect the lesion to ulcerate to become an open sore but you do not mention that this occurred.  Further, you had a syphilis blood test performed which was negative.  if the lesion on your back had been present for more than 2-3 days, your syphilis blood test would have been positive but it was not. You also do not mention what might have caused the lesion you describe to go away.

Your concerns about your mother touching the sore are likewise not consistent with syphilis.  Even when syphilis sores are touched, they typically are not transmitted.  Further, her current symptoms are in NO WAY consistent with syphilis which does NOT cause fever, sore throat or acute knee pain. 

thus in summary, you had a very, very low risk exposure, you have a negative test, and you are still worried that you might have gotten syphilis and transmitted it to your mother by casual contact.  This is just not a plausible situation.  I urge you not to worry further about syphilis and to move forward without concern.  I hope my comments are helpful to you - please don't worry.  EWH

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46 months ago
thanks..   the place on my back never ulcerated,, it went away on its own after about 2 weeks,   I have worried so much that I might have passed syphilis on to her by accident,,      I have had this in my mind for over a year or more..      so there is no way this could have been syphilis passed to her?   my test was done 7 weeks after the massage..   maybe my anxiety has put these symptoms my mom had all together and i have worried ..     I want to end this worry today..     
46 months ago
here is more detailed of my experience I had typed  before, I had an experience where I went to a massage parlour. The massage lady sat naked on my lower back. She rubbed my shoulders and massage me. She sat and moved back and forth with her vagina. About 4 or 5 weeks later I got a small red spot on the skin and it gradually turned brownish/red. It did not ulcerate.It was flat with the skin. I went to the doctor a week after I noticed the spot and asked him what he thought. He did not seemed concerned about it. I told him my experience. He knew I have anxiety so he ordered a syphilis RPR blood test. This was done 7 weeks after my massage. The results came back non-reactive( negative) a week or so later I had another flat red spot show up and then a week later a brownish lesion flat with skin like 1/2 inch,, looked like a burn. It was not painful. I noticed these after I would cut grass for hours on the lawnmower. The original first red mark went away after a week,, maybe 8-9 days.. I picked at the other bigger lesion (spot on skin) and it came off and left a scar. I went to the urgent care with sinus type infection and they gave me a shot of rocephin 1 gram and also I got them to give me 2 weeks of doxycycline 2 times a day 100mg. I took all the medicine. I went back to the doctor for my physical 3 weeks later and told him I had some more spots show up.. he said to make me feel better he would do another syphilis test. This was done at 85 days or almost 3months after my massage
46 months ago
I did have a spot similar come back a year after all this happen,, same area
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
46 months ago
Thanks for the additional information.  Reading it suggests ever more strongly that you are adding two and two together and coming up with 20.  this in turn led to therapy with medications which would have cured syphilis if you had it but which I am confident you did not have.   The occurrences you describe are unlikely coincidences.  I am confident of this   EWH
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46 months ago
thanks .  I am going to move on from this worry .. once and for all            Thanks
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
46 months ago
Great, that is absolutely the right thing to do.  EWH
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46 months ago
thanks for your help.  This can be closed out now.