Hair loss is not a common feature of secondary syphilis. There are two types of syphilitic alopecia: “symptomatic” type where hair loss is associated with other symptoms of secondary syphilis, and “essential” alopecia that is either patchy (“moth-eaten” type), diffuse pattern with a generalized thinning of the scalp hair, or a combination of both without any other mucocutaneous signs of syphilis. This article presents a case of syphilitic alopecia in a 30-year-old homosexual man. The patient had diffuse non-scarring alopecia of his scalp and loss of eyelashes and eyebrows. A macular rash with palmar-plantar involvement and oral lesions coexisted with the hair loss. Serological tests for syphilis were positive. The patient was treated with a single dose of benzathine penicillin G, 2.4 million units intramuscularly. Within three months there was dramatic hair regrowth, and all syphilitic lesions resolved. Patient was councelled and tested on HIV. The HIV seropositivity was confirmed by Western blot analysis.
Syphilitic alopecia should not be overlooked in patients with non-scarring hair loss. Serologic testing for syphilis is recommended in patients with unexplained rapid hair loss. However, all patients presenting with syphilis should be offered HIV testing.