Yaws is contagious via direct skin contact with an infective skin lesion. The bacteria typically gains entry through a cut, bite or scratch. Yaws mainly infects your skin, bones and joints.
Yaws bacterial infection is limited to areas of warm, humid, tropical climates, like the Caribbean, Latin America, West Africa, India and Southeast Asia. The infection is predominantly spread amongst children under age 15.
After yaws bacteria gains entry, an itchy, raspberry looking skin lesion develops at the site of entry. This typically painless lesion is known as the “mother yaw” and this symptom may persist for months. Any nearby lymph nodes may swell as well.
Additional yaws symptoms you may experience include:
- joint pain
- bone pain
- bone lesions
- bone damage
- crusty rashes
- facial swelling
- soft, gummy growths (tumors)
- skin thickening of palms, soles of feet
Over several years, the lesions on your skin and bones can cause severe and permanent destruction. Yaws causes deformities of legs, nose, palate and upper jaw. But most often, yaws symptoms are limited to skin lesions.
If treated early, yaws can be cured with a single injection of penicillin. If this antibiotic is administered after skin and bone lesion damage, any impairment will likely be permanent. Yet, further bacterial infection destruction can be averted.