Yaws is a chronic illness which first affects the skin, and then affects the bones. It genrerally tends to strike children, particularly between the ages of two and five.
- The first symptom of yaws occurs three to four weeks after acquiring the bacteria.
- The area where the bacteria originally entered the skin becomes a noticeable bump (papule) which grows larger and develops a punched-out center (ulcer), covered with a yellow crust.
- Lymph nodes in the area may become swollen and tender and may take as long as six months to heal.
- Secondary soft, gummy growths then appear on the face, arms and legs, and buttocks. These soft, tumor-like masses may grow on the soles of the feet, causing the patient to walk in an odd and characteristic fashion on the sides of his or her feet (nicknamed "crab yaws").
- More destructive tumors may then disrupt the bones of the face, the jaw, and the lower leg.
- Ulcers around the nose and on the face may be very mutilating.