Leprosy: Risk factors, diagnosis, causes, treatment and types


Leprosy is an infectious disease that damages nerves of the arms, leg and skin. Symptoms may appear early but treatment is available and diagnosis can be made.

Along with damages of nerves leprosy causes sores too


How do people contact leprosy?

You can contact leprosy if you come into close and repeated contact with droplets from nose and mouth of an infected person.

When one with leprosy coughs or sneezes, droplets containing M.leprae may spread to uninfected persons


  • Affects the eyes
  • Affects tissue lining the nose
  • Affects the skin( Skin lesions)
  • Affects nerves of the brain and spinal cord
  • Disfigured skin; Sores and lumps that don’t go away after weeks and months, pale in color
  • Loss of feeling in arms and legs due to nerve damage
  • Muscle weakness due to nerve damage
  • Numbness in hands, feet and legs

How does it occur?

Most people do not develop symptoms until after 20 years but basically may get symptoms after 3-5 years of contact with a leprous person or the bacteria that causes leprosy

What causes Leprosy?

Caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium leprae( M.leprae) . leprosy is also known as Hansen disease.

Note: Pregnant mothers cannot pass leprosy to unborn babies

It cannot be transmitted through sexual intercourse

Forms of leprosy

  • Tuberculoid

A less severe form of leprosy signified by few patches of flat, pale colored skin. The skin area feels numb cos of nerve damages. This form is less contagious

  • Lepromatous

A more severe form of the disease accompanied with rash, skin bump, muscle weakness and numbness. Affects kidney, nose and male reproductive organ and more contagious.

  • Borderline

People with this type exhibit symptom of both tuberculoid and lepromatous leprosy


  • Skin biopsy- Lab examination of sample of skin
  • Skin smear test
  • Lepronin skin test: To determine type of leprosy had by injecting small amount of inactive leprosy causing bacteria under the skin of the fore arm

Physical exam to check for symptoms


N:B;There is a cure

  • Antibiotics can be used to treat the infection but cannot repair nerve damage that comes with leprosy
  • Multi drug therapy
  • A combination of antibiotic medication
  • Anti inflammatory drugs

To control nerve pains and damage caused by leprosy.

Medications like Thalidomide may be recommended to treat leprosy skin nodules, though it comes with life threatening birth defects.

Complications from leprosy

  • Damage to skin, nerves, feet, legs, arms, eyes etc. You may not feel pains when you get cut or burnt.
  • Blindness or glaucoma
  • Infertility
  • Iritis
  • Erectile dysfunction in men
  • Hair loss
  • Disfiguration of face with permanent swelling, bumps and lumps
  • Permanent damage inside nose which may lead to chrome stuffy nose and nose bleeds
  • Permanent damage to nerves outside brain and spinal cord
  • Kidney failure
  • Muscle weakness that leads to claw like hands or inability to flex feet

Common antibiotic used

  • Ofloxacin( Ocuflux)
  • Dapsone(Aczone)
  • Rifampin(Rifadin)
  • Clofazimine(Lamprene)
  • Minocycline( Minocin)

Anti-inflammatory drugs like

  • Aspirin(Bayer)
  • Prednisone(Rayos)
  • Thalidomide(Thalomid); not recommended for pregnant women.


Avoid close, long term contact with infected persons.







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Disclaimer; No content on JaRaHaB should be used as a direct substitute for medical advice from your doctor, health and appearance personnel or practitioner.

I am Ray. A simple girl who writes for fun and therapy. Your favourite entrepreneur and health professional who is MPH certified. Passionate health Writer and Mental health advocate who has and is still having her fair share of varying daily, rare and challenging health and lifestyle struggles and shares in her voice how she overcomes them and how you too can cope for good Mental health. A survivor and writer with many books written to be published, a tech enthusiast and a perfectionist who has come to terms with embracing the imperfect life happily against odds through her realist nature. Oh, did i mention that there's something about me and Social entrepreneurship i have been exploring on this part of the world? Oh, anything to get the ball rolling with lots of side passions. I am founder of social enterprise called Ray. And, you know, 'I love you' just the way you are.
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