What is Leprosy?

Leprosy is a chronic disease caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium Leprae.

How do you get Leprosy?

A person can get leprosy if they contact an infected persons nasal secretions, especially from the nasal droplets of an infected persons sneeze.

About the bacteria

The bacteria that causes Leprosy tends to affect the skin, nerves and upper respiratory tract. Early infection is usually self healing but if the infection does not heal, it develops into either three types of leprosy, Tuberculoid leprosy, Lepromatous Leprosy, or Borderline leprosy.

Tuberculoid leprosy

In this type of leprosy, the onset of symptoms are gradual, the first symptom is usually a small area of numbness. In some people however, the first symptom is hypopigmentation (lighter skin spots) and red flat spots.

Nerves- The following nerves are later affected

  • Great articular nerve of the neck
  • Medial, ulnar and radial nerve (nerves of the arm and wrist)
  • Posterior tibial nerve (nerve of the leg)

Skin-  In the beginning there are spotted areas of the skin with well defined edges, which appear to be lighter than the original skin tone. These light skin patches are found on the arms, legs, buttocks, and shoulders. These patches are numb especially to light touch. The skin is dry, scaly, and there is a lack of sweating in the skin.

Lepromatous Leprosy

The skin patches here are the same as above except that they are more in number, smaller, widely scattered on the whole body, poorly defined edges and no numbness.

Borderline leprosy

A mixture of the two, nerve problems come before skin problems and the eyes and nose are not involved.

Treatment

Lepromatous leprosy – treatment is with a combination of three drugs;

  • Rifampicin 600mg daily for 4 weeks
  • Dapsone 50-100mg daily for whole life
  • Clofazamine 100mg 3 times a week for 1 year.

Tuberculous Leprosy –

Dapsone 25-50mg daily for 3-10 years.


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