Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care

: 2016  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 506-

Palmoplantar syphilis misdiagnosed and treated as palmoplantar psoriasis for 2 years

Berna Solak, Rabia Oztas Kara, Teoman Erdem 
 Department of Dermatology, Faculty of Medicine, Sakarya University, Sakarya, Turkey

Correspondence Address:
Berna Solak
Department of Dermatology, Faculty of Medicine, Sakarya University, Sakarya 54000

How to cite this article:
Solak B, Kara RO, Erdem T. Palmoplantar syphilis misdiagnosed and treated as palmoplantar psoriasis for 2 years.J Family Med Prim Care 2016;5:506-506

How to cite this URL:
Solak B, Kara RO, Erdem T. Palmoplantar syphilis misdiagnosed and treated as palmoplantar psoriasis for 2 years. J Family Med Prim Care [serial online] 2016 [cited 2021 May 14 ];5:506-506
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Dear Editor,

A 43-year-old woman presented with erythematous, hyperkeratotic papules, and plaques on her palms and soles for 2 years [Figure 1]a and [Figure 1]b. She had used several topical steroid and moisturizing creams, without any benefit. She stated that punch biopsy had been taken from her palm in another medical center, which revealed psoriasis vulgaris 2 years ago. Basic laboratory tests were normal. She denied any systemic disease or drug use and abuse. There were no similar lesions in her family. Venereal disease research laboratory (VDRL) test and Treponema pallidum hemagglutination test were positive at titers of 1/256 and 1/320, respectively. Hepatitis B surface (HBs) antigen, anti-HBs, anti-hepatitis C virus, and anti-HIV antibodies were negative. There was no history of genital ulcer, surgery, or blood transfusion in recent years. With a diagnosis of palmoplantar syphilis, benzathine penicillin 2.4 MU intramuscular injection and topical urea lotion 10% were commenced. After 3 weeks, lesions almost completely disappeared [Figure 1]c. VDRL test titer reduced to 1/64 after 2 months of treatment. The UK British Association for Sexual Health and HIV guidelines recommend a single dose of benzathine penicillin 2.4 MU as intramuscular injection for uncomplicated syphilis.[1]{Figure 1}

Since syphilis chancre is not painful and may be localized in areas out of sights such as rectum and vagina, she might not have noticed the lesions. Histopathological findings of the secondary syphilis are diverse and psoriasiform and/or lichenoid patterns can be seen.[2] As a great imitator, clinicians should be familiar with all potential clinical forms of syphilis. Syphilis can be seen in the palmoplantar area mimicking psoriasis, lichen, etc.[3] When it is not recognized and treated properly, syphilis may progress into the devastating tertiary stage.[3] Early diagnosis of syphilis is important to avoid unnecessary invasive and costly procedures. Early diagnosis is also important from a public health perspective since the second stage of the disease is highly contagious. Thus, in suspected cases, simple screening and verification tests should be performed considering that the chancre does not always be recalled by the patient.

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1Kingston M, French P, Higgins S, McQuillan O, Sukthankar A, Stott C, et al. UK national guidelines on the management of syphilis 2015. Int J STD AIDS 2016;27:421-46.
2Engelkens HJ, ten Kate FJ, Vuzevski VD, van der Sluis JJ, Stolz E. Primary and secondary syphilis: A histopathological study. Int J STD AIDS 1991;2:280-4.
3Balagula Y, Mattei PL, Wisco OJ, Erdag G, Chien AL. The great imitator revisited: The spectrum of atypical cutaneous manifestations of secondary syphilis. Int J Dermatol 2014;53:1434-41.