Leprosy Symptoms and treatment

 

Leprosy is one of the chronic conditions caused by the bacteria" Mycobacterium leprae". It mainly affects the skin, Eyes,  Upper respiratory tract, the mucous lining of the nose & peripheral nervous system. 

Leprosy develops slowly with an incubation period of six months to 40 years. It causes skin ulcers, nerve damages & also muscle weakness. If proper treatment is not provided then the disease results in severe disfigurement and disabilities.

Several types of Leprosy are differentiated based on the number & type of skin sores are as follows-

Tuberculoid: This type of leprosy is less contagious than other forms. It causes few or less pale patches on the skin which might be numb due to nerve damage in that area. It is considered to be a mild and less severe form of leprosy.

Lepromatous:

This is the most contagious and severe form of leprosy which spreads wildly with skin bumps, rashes, muscle weakness, and numbness. It also affects male reproductive organs & kidneys.

Borderline: 

This type includes both symptoms of tuberculoid and lepromatous.

Cause

Leprosy is caused by rod-shaped, slow-growing, acid-fast bacteria called Mycobacterium leprae. People get transmitted by this bacteria when they come in close contact with an infected person through droplets of cough or sneeze. It doesn't spread by casual contact with infected persons like hugging, sitting next to them or shaking hands, etc. Pregnant women with leprosy can't pass it to the baby.

It develops mainly in cooler areas of the body to grow well like the body's macrophages (a type of immune system cell) and Schwann cells (cells that cover and protect nerve axons). 

Symptoms

In the early stages of leprosy, there might not be many symptoms shown when compared with later progressive stages. These symptoms occur slowly as the bacteria started to grow in the infected areas of the body.

  • Numbness, loss of sensation, temperature, and pins or needleless sensation are the early-stage symptoms.

  • Joint pains

  • Nerve damage

  • Weight loss

  • Painless ulcers, blisters, and rashes.

  • Hair loss & Eye damage

  • Hyperpigmented skin lesions. 

Treatment

Treatment for leprosy depends on it's the type that you have. Your doctor will suggest antibiotics for 6 months to 1 year to treat leprosy when it's in the early stages. If the infection is severe then your doctor suggests long-term treatment with antibiotics & may also suggest MDT (Multiple drugs therapy).

Some anti-inflammatory drugs & steroids are also recommended to treat leprosy.


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