Leprosy is a chronic disease mainly caused by the bacteria mycobacterium leprae, which causes damage to the skin and the peripheral nervous system. It is also known as Hansen’s disease. The disease develops slowly (From 6 months to 40 yrs) and results in skin lesions and deformities. The skin lesions and deformities can be very disfiguring. It primarily affects the nerves of the extremities ,the skin ,the lining of the nose and the upper respiratory tract.
Leprosy primarily affects your skin and nerves outside your brain and spinal cord, called the peripheral nerves. It may also strike your eyes and the thin tissue lining the inside of your nose
The main symptoms of Leprosy are –
• Muscle Weakness
• Skin lesions
• Numbness in the hands ,arms ,feet and legs
The skin lesions result in decreased sensation to touch , temperature or pain. They don’t heal even after several weeks. They are lighter than your normal skin or they may be redenned from inflammation.
It usually takes about 3-5 yrs for symptoms to appear after coming into contact with the bacteria that causes leprosy. The time between contact with bacteria and appearance of symptoms is called the incubation period. Leprosy’s long incubation period makes it difficult for doctors to determine when and where a person with leprosy got infected.
Leprosy is caused by a slow growing type of bacteria called mycobacterium leprae.
It is not clear exactly how leprosy is transmitted .When a person with leprosy coughs or sneezes,they may spread droplets containing the mycobacterium leprae bacteria with an infected person is necessary to transmit leprosy .
It is not spread by casual contact with an infected person ,like shaking hands, hugging or sitting next to them on a bus or at a table during a meal. Pregnant mother’s with leprosy can’t pass it to their unborn babies. It is not transmitted by sexual contact either.
Leprosy is divided mainly into 3 types –
• Tuberculoid –
It is a mild, less severe form of leprosy. People with this type have only one or a few patches of flat, pale colored skin. The affected area of skin may feel numb. It is less contagious then other forms.
• Lepromatous –
It is more severe form of the disease . It brings widespread skin bumps and rashes ,numbness and muscle weakness. The nose , kidneys and make reproductive organs may also be affected . It is more contagious.
• Borderline –
People with this type of leprosy have symptoms of both the tuberculoid and lepromatous forms.
Classification according to number of lesions –
• Single lesion paucibacillary (SLPB) – only one lesion.
• Paucibacillary (PB) – two to five lesions.
• Multibacillary (MB) – six or more lesions.
• Physical examination
• Skin biopsy
• Lepromin skin test
• Permanent nerve damage in the arms and legs
• Hairloss , particularly on the eyebrows and eyelashes
• Inability to use hands and feet
• Erectile dysfunction
• Chronic nasal congestion, nosebleeds and collapse of the nasal septum
• Kidney failure
Best way to prevent leprosy is to avoid long term close contact with an untreated person who has the infection.
Antibiotics are used to treat the infection. Long term treatment , usually for 6 months to a year is recommended. Antibiotics can’t treat the nerve damage that comes with leprosy.
Multidrug therapy (MDT) is a common treatment for leprosy that combines antibiotics. It means you will take two or more medications, often Antibiotics –
• Paucibacillary leprosy – you will take two antibiotics ,such as dapsone daily and rifampicin once a month.
• Multibacillary leprosy – you will take a daily dose of the antibiotic clofazimine in addition to the daily dapsone and monthly rifampicin. It’s course is 1-2 yrs for fully cured.
Antiinflammatory drugs includes steroids like Prednisone may be needed to control nerve pain and damage.
Ayurvedic Perspective –
In Ayurveda leprosy is known as kustha.
It’s pathogenesis is as follows –
Panchkarma procedures –
• Vamana –
• Virechana –
Effective Herbs –
• Khadira –
• Ashwagandha –
• Haridra –
• Brahmi –
• Neem –
Beneficial Medications –
• Panchtikta ghrita gugglu
• Tankan Bhasm
• Chalmogra oil
• Pind taila
• Kaishore gugglu
• Somraji oil
• Gandhak Rasayan
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