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What is Leprosy


What causes leprosy?


A germ affecting the skin and nerves causes leprosy. If not treated, it causes disabilities.


How is leprosy spread?


Leprosy germs are spread when an untreated leprosy sufferer sneezes or coughs a lot of times.

Most people have a natural resistance to the leprosy germ and cannot get the disease.


Can leprosy be treated?


Yes, leprosy can be successfully treated. Treatment usually lasts between 6 months to 2 years, depending on how severely a person is affected.


  • The best time to start treatment is as soon as the signs of leprosy appear.
  • Treatment reduces the risk of the person spreading leprosy.
  • Treatment reduces the person’s risk of getting disabilities.


The Leprosy Mission promise successful treatment by:


  • Motivating the person to take treatment daily.
  • Encouraging the person to collect treatment regularly.
  • Tell the person not to stop treatment unless instructed!
  • Early diagnosis can prevent deformities


When the community accepts the disease, and gives people the necessary support and motivation to seek help, leprosy is detected early. When a person receives regular treatment and comes for regular check-ups problems can be treated early.


Nerve damage can result in clawing of fingers.



Disabilities that may occur


Nerve damage paralyses the eyelids so that the person cannot blink.

Nerve damage can result in injuries to hands and feet.


What are the signs of leprosy?


Look for:

  • Skin patches lighter in colour than surrounding skin one or more, any size, any place on the body.
  • Skin patches with little or no feeling.
  • Thickening of the skin or lumps, especially on the face and ears.
  • Pain, tenderness and/or thickening of a nerve (usually near the joints).
  • Loss of feeling or weakness of fingers and/or toes.
  • Painless injuries, burns and blisters on hands and feet.
  • Single, lighter coloured flat patch. These patches may have no feeling. Person may not have any other complaints.


Patch which is similar to ringworm. Towards the centre skin is lighter in colour. The edges are raised, with loss of feeling. May have no other complaints.


Flat light-coloured patches with loss of feeling. May complain of loss of feeling or weakness in fingers and toes.


Lighter patches with raised edges with slight loss of feeling. Person may complain of loss of feeling and weakness in hands and feet.




Pimple-like lumps on face, ears and hands. Person may complain of nose bleeding and blocked nose. Loss of feeling and weakness of hands and feet.



Bigger lumps on skin and ears. Loss of eyebrows, complains of nose bleeding and nose blocks.


Thickening of skin, face and earlobes. Loss of feeling and weakness in hands and feet. Blocked nose, nose bleeding and lose of eyebrows.

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