Trump’s Red Hand Markings Draw Wild Speculation—Including Syphilis Conspiracies


Former President Donald Trump was photographed Wednesday leaving his Manhattan apartment with a patchwork of red markings resembling blisters on his right hand—drawing mass speculation about the cause of the apparent affliction as Trump has stayed uncharacteristically mum on the subject.

Key Facts

The blemishes were visible in photos of Trump’s right index finger, thumb and upper palm as he waved to cameras while departing his Fifth Avenue residence for his latest trial Wednesday, but hours later they had disappeared from photos and videos of him gesturing at a campaign rally in New Hampshire.

The spots headlined the Drudge Report and have become a prominent talking point among politicos, with many guessing whether they were a symptom of sexually transmitted disease syphilis.

While the markings could resemble syphilis sores, there is no actual evidence Trump has the disease.

Hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” questioned whether the blemishes were magic marker, blood or something that may have been exacerbated by Trump slamming his hands on the table during his defamation trial surrounding statements he made about writer E. Jean Carroll.

Democratic strategist James Carville didn’t mince words: “They don’t look like cuts to me . . . I think there’s a good chance this man has the clap,” he said Wednesday on the Politicon podcast, noting he consulted “a number” of doctors who all came to the consensus that Trump has “secondary syphilis,” though he did not identify the doctors and added the disclaimer that the photos may have been doctored.

Some doctors made more mundane guesses: George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences Professor Jonathan Reiner theorized on X that Trump could have injured himself, noting “it’s not uncommon for 77 yo people to fall,” while Joshua Zeichner, an associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, told Business Insider Trump may simply have a rash that could be caused by a variety of factors, ranging from his golf club grip to dry hands.


Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection that can be spread by making contact with an open sore during sex. Chancres or ulcers resulting from syphilis bacteria often first appear at the infection site approximately two to three weeks after exposure, while hand sores—a symptom of secondary syphilis—can show up four to eight weeks after the initial infection. Syphilis can stay in the body without symptoms for many years. Though it can often easily be cured just with a single shot of penicillin, syphilis can cause heart, brain and organ damage without treatment.

Key Background

Trump’s latest trial this week in Manhattan federal court is to determine how much he owes Carroll in damages after a judge previously ruled that he defamed her by denying her claims of sexual abuse against him. A jury found him liable last year for sexually abusing Carroll in a department store dressing room in the 1990s, awarding her $5 million in damages. U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan subsequently ruled in her favor in the defamation case against him, and she is seeking at least an additional $10 million in damages. Kaplan on Wednesday threatened to kick Trump out of the courtroom for making “disruptive” comments in front of the jury, prompting a heated exchange between Kaplan and Trump, who told the judge he would “love” to be kicked out. “I know you would. I know you would,” Kaplan said.

What To Watch For

Trump is on track to win the GOP presidential nomination after sweeping his competition in Iowa Monday, winning 51% of votes. The next primary contest is Tuesday in New Hampshire, where he is also projected to win nearly half of the votes over his remaining two competitors, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, according to FiveThirtyEight’s polling average.

MORE FROM FORBESE. Jean Carroll Testifies Trump ‘Shattered My Reputation’ At Defamation Trial-As Ex-President Watches In Court

MORE FROM FORBESTrump Goes To Trial Against E. Jean Carroll-Again: Here’s What To Know
MORE FROM FORBESTrump Arrives In Court For E. Jean Carroll Trial After Iowa Win
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