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LEPROSY

Leprosy is an infectious disease derived from the French work "leper" and from the Greek word "lepros" which means scaly, referring to the scales that form on the skin in some cases of leprosy and that has been known since biblical times. Leprosy is characterized by disfiguring skin sores, nerve damage, and progressive debilitation. Leprosy is caused by a bacterium which affects various parts of the body, including in particular the skin and nerves. Leprosy is a difficult disease to transmit and has a long incubation period. Children are more susceptible than adults to contracting the disease.

 

TYPES:

1) Tuberculoid.

2) Lepromatous.

3) Complications.

4) Cosmetic Disfigurement.

5) Muscle Weakness.

6) Nerve Damage in the Extremities.

7) Sensory Loss in the Skin.

 

CAUSES:

1) Mycobacterium leprae.

2) Person to Person.

3) Genetics.

4) Environmental conditions.

 

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS:

1) Eye Problems.

2) Muscle Weakness.

3) Skin Rash.

4) Skin Stiffness.

5) Skin lesions.

6) Numbness.

 

PREVENTION:

Because leprosy can be cured with medicines, an early diagnosis will often reduce leprosy symptoms and complications. Therefore, while prevention of leprosy is not always possible, especially where leprosy is endemic, control should be possible. Prevention consists of,

 

1) Avoiding physical contact with untreated people. People who are in immediate contact with the leprosy patient should be tested for leprosy.

 

2) Annual examinations should also be conducted on these people for a period of five years following their last contact with an infectious patient.

 

3) Reconstructive surgery is aimed at preventing and correcting deformities.

 

4) Comprehensive care involves teaching patients to care for themselves.

 

5) Physiotherapy exercises are taught to the patients to maintain a range of movement in finger joints and prevent the deformities from worsening.

 

TREATMENT:

Historically, there was no cure for leprosy. With early diagnosis and treatment of leprosy the symptoms and complications can be minimized. It is important to note that treatment of leprosy differs depending upon the form of the disease. Treatment will generally continue for one year for tuberculoid leprosy and for two years for lepromatous leprosy.

 

Treatment of leprosy typically involves medicines along with supportive care. Supportive care is aimed at treating symptoms and associated complications. A number of different antibiotics are used to kill the bacteria that causes the disease.

 

Aspirin, prednisone, or thalidomide are used to control inflammation.

 

Many times, medicine for treatment of leprosy can be provided at no cost to patients by their family doctor or through the Hansen's Disease Clinic closest to them. A person should see improvements after two to three months of beginning treatment.

 

For more information, consult our dermatologist