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Information about Leprosy

We Have to Know about the Leprosy

  • Leprosy also called Hansen’s Disease, is characterized by disfiguring skin sores, nerve damage, and progressive debilitation

Causes of Leprosy

  • Leprosy is caused by the organism Mycobacterium leprae
  • It is not very contagious (difficult to transmit) and has a long incubation period (time before symptoms appear), which makes it difficult to determine where or when the disease was contracted

Leprosy has two common forms, tuberculoid and lepromatous

  • Both forms produce sores on the skin, but the lepromatous form is most severe, producing large, disfiguring nodules (lumps and bumps)
  • All forms of the disease eventually cause nerve damage in the arms and legs, which causes a sensory loss in the skin and muscle weakness
  • People with long-term leprosy may lose the use of their hands or feet due to repeated injury resulting from lack of sensation

Signs & Symptoms of leprosy 

  • The symptoms of leprosy can present differently in different people with the condition

The main symptoms include:

  • The appearance of skin lesions that are lighter than normal skin and remain for weeks or months
  • patches of skin with decreased sensation, such as touch, pain, and heat
  • muscle weakness
  • numbness in the hands, feet, legs, and arms, known as “glove and stocking anesthesia”
  • eye problems
  • enlarged nerves, especially in the elbows or knees
  • stuffy nose and nosebleeds
  • curling of the fingers and thumb, caused by paralysis of small muscles in the hand
  • ulcers on the soles of the feet

Do’s and Don’ts of leprosy

  • Avoid close physical contact with untreated people. People on long-term medication become noninfectious (they do not transmit the organism that causes the disease)

Medical advice for leprosy

  • See your doctor if signs or symptoms occur, especially following exposure

Risk factors of leprosy

  • Children are more susceptible than adults in contracting the disease

Treatment for leprosy

  • The majority of cases (mainly clinically diagnosed) are treated with antibiotics. The recommended antibiotics, their dosages, and length of time of administration are based on the form or classification of the disease and whether or not the patient is supervised by a medical professional
  • In general, paucibacillary leprosy is treated with two antibiotics, dapsone, and rifampicin, while multibacillary leprosy is treated with the same two plus a third antibiotic, clofazimine
  • Usually, the antibiotics are given for at least six to 12 months or more to cure the disease
  • Antibiotics can treat paucibacillary leprosy with little or no residual effects on the patient
  • Multibacillary leprosy can be kept from advancing, and living M. leprae can be essentially eliminated from the person by antibiotics, but the damage done before antibiotics are administered is usually not reversible
  • Recently, the WHO suggested that single-dose treatment of patients with only one skin lesion with rifampicin, minocycline (Minocin), or ofloxacin (Floxin) is effective
  • Studies of other antibiotics are ongoing. Each patient, depending on the above criteria, has a schedule for their individual treatment, so treatment schedules should be planned by a clinician knowledgeable about that patient’s initial diagnostic classification
  • Steroid medications have been used to minimize pain and acute inflammation with leprosy; however, controlled trials showed no significant long-term effects on nerve damage
  • The role for surgery in the treatment of leprosy occurs after medical treatment (antibiotics) has been completed with negative skin smears (no detectable acid-fast bacilli) and is often only needed in advanced cases
  • Surgery is individualized for each patient with the goal to attempt cosmetic improvements and, if possible, to restore limb function and some neural functions that were lost to the disease
  • Some people in the United States may be treated in special clinics run by the National Hansen’s Disease Program

Investigations for Leprosy  

  • Lepromin Skin Test
  • Skin Test.
Risk factors of leprosy
Leprosy also called Hansen’s Disease