The great imitator revisited: The spectrum of atypical cutaneous manifestations of secondary syphilis

Yevgeniy Balagula, Peter L. Mattei, Oliver Wisco, Gulsun Erdag, Anna L. Chien

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

35 Scopus citations


Syphilis is a well-known sexually transmitted infection infamous for its protean cutaneous manifestations. Over the last decade, the rate of infection in the USA has risen, particularly among human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected individuals and certain ethnic groups. Although the primary chancre developing at the site of inoculation usually has typical and well-characterized features, cutaneous manifestations of secondary syphilis span a wide spectrum and mimic those of other dermatoses. This may be particularly evident in patients with HIV. Such deviations from the expected typical papulosquamous eruption may present a diagnostic challenge and delay diagnosis and therapy. Given the increasing incidence of syphilis among the immunosuppressed patient population, recognition of atypical cutaneous manifestations is critical for adequate management. We review a range of cutaneous manifestations of secondary syphilis and the skin diseases it may mimic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1434-1441
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Dermatology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2014
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Medicine(all)

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