Syphilitic stomatitis: raising awareness on an often-overlooked presentation of secondary syphilis
  • Henrique Atalaia-Barbacena
    Serviço de Medicina, Hospital de Santa Maria, ULS Santa Maria, Lisbon, Portugal; Instituto de Farmacologia e Neurociências Básicas, Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal
  • Catarina Isabel Lopes
    Serviço de Endocrinologia, Diabetes e Metabolismo, Hospital de Santa Maria, ULS Santa Maria, Lisbon, Portugal
  • Inês Matias Lopes
    Serviço de Medicina, Hospital de Santa Maria, ULS Santa Maria, Lisbon, Portugal
  • Patrícia Howell Monteiro
    Serviço de Medicina, Hospital de Santa Maria, ULS Santa Maria, Lisbon, Portugal

Keywords

Syphilis, tongue, stomatitis, secondary syphilis

Abstract

Syphilis, a disease caused by the bacteria Treponema pallidum, has a multitude of clinical manifestations and is classified into primary syphilis, secondary syphilis and tertiary syphilis, based on clinical presentations and the time elapsed since the primary infection. The secondary stage of the disease can affect multiple organs and systems, and some of these involvements may be general and non-specific, justifying its name as ‘the great imitator’. We present a case of a 30-year-old woman with a history of painful neck lymph nodes with progressive enlargement, persistent headache, weight loss, myalgia and alopecia. During investigations, stomatitis on the dorsal face of the tongue developed. A secondary study showed serum positive for rapid plasma reagin (RPR) and T. pallidum haemagglutination (TPHA), negative RPR in cerebrospinal fluid and normal MRI, thus the diagnosis of secondary syphilis was made. The patient was treated with a single dose of penicillin with complete resolution of symptoms. The case highlights the need for an exhaustive clinical examination, especially in cases presenting with non-specific and general symptoms, and raises awareness for this disease which has increased its prevalence in the last decades.

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    Published: 2024-04-22
    Issue: 2024: Vol 11 No 5 (view)


    How to cite:
    1.
    Atalaia-Barbacena H, Lopes CI, Lopes IM, Howell Monteiro P. Syphilitic stomatitis: raising awareness on an often-overlooked presentation of secondary syphilis. EJCRIM 2024;11 doi:10.12890/2024_004416.