Leprosy is a long-lasting infectious condition brought about by the Mycobacterium leprae bacterium. Generally, children are affected more than adults. The condition typically affects the skin, peripheral nerves, eyes, upper respiratory tract, nose and nasal mucosa which results to skin lesions, deformity and disfigurement. Take note that the cooler regions of the body especially the nose, eyes, hands, earlobes, testicles and feet are affected.
What are the types?
- Tuberculoid (paucibacillary) – this is a mild form defined by reddened skin patches on the extremities or trunks along with diminished sensation
- Lepromatous (multibacillary) – severe form with skin rashes on the knees, elbows, face, buttocks, wrists and ears.
What are the signs?
It is important to note that leprosy is characterized by the following:
- One or two reddened patches on the extremities and trunk along with reduced “light touch” sensation
- Skin dryness and stiffness
- Muscular weakness in the feet and hands
- Skin lesions with evident sensory loss with or without thickened nerves
- Loss of toes and fingers
- Severe pain
- Issues with the eyes that can lead to blindness
- Rashes form on the knees, elbows, face, buttocks, wrists and ears
- Thickened facial skin
- Thinning out of the eyelashes and eyebrows
- Nasal congestion
- Enlarged lymph nodes in the armpits and groin
- Nasal bleeding or collapse of the nose
Management of leprosy
When treating leprosy, antibiotics are generally given. In most cases, a combination of antibiotics (multi-drug therapy) is given to eliminate the bacteria responsible for the condition but this is based on whether it is the paucibacillary or multibacillary form. This treatment might span a period of 6 months up to 2 years.
Some of the antibiotics used in the treatment include:
In some cases, surgery might be an option for the following:
- Significant disfigurement of the face and body extremities
- Facial defects
- Improve motor function and sensation in the affected limbs
In severe cases of leprosy, some body parts might be amputated.