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Diagnosis and Treatment of Leprosy

Diagnosis and Treatment of Leprosy
in Internal Medicine

Apr 19, 2022

Leprosy could be identified by the presence of patches on the skin which could look darker or lighter than a normal skin. The affected part may sometimes also be reddish. Loss of sensation or feeling in the patches is common. You may not feel even a prick of the needle. For confirming the diagnosis a doctor will take a sample of your skin or a nerve through skin or nerve biopsy to identify bacteria through a microscope. This test is also important to rule out any skin disease that might be affecting you.

Treatment of Leprosy

Treatment of leprosy is done using a combination of antibiotics. Usually, 2 0r 3 antibiotics are taken at same time. This is known as multidrug therapy. The strategy helps in prevention of progression of antibiotic resistance by bacteria which can otherwise take place because of the duration of the treatment.

Treatment generally lasts from 1 to 2 years. The illness could be cured when the treatment is done as prescribed.

When we are treated for leprosy, it is important to:-

  • Inform our doctor if we experience numbness or loss of feeling in some parts of our body or even in patches on the skin. This could be a result of nerve damage from infection. If we have numbness & loss of feeling we shall take additional care for prevention of injuries which could take places such as cuts and burns.
  • Take antibiotics till our doctor suggests about the completion of our treatment. If we stop earlier the bacteria could start progressing again & we may fall sick again.
  • Inform our doctor if the skin patches affected, get red & painful, nerves get swollen and painful, or we grow a fever as these could be the complications of leprosy which may need intensive treatment with medication that could lower the inflammation.

The damage of nerve could lead to crippling and paralysis of hands & feet if left untreated. In the highly advances cases, an individual could have multiple injuries because of lack of sensation and finally, the body could reabsorb the affected digits with time, leading to apparent loss of our fingers and toes. Blindness or corneal ulcers could also take place if our facial nerves get affected because of loss of sensation in the cornea of our eyes. Other signs of advanced leprosy could involve loss of eyebrows & saddle nose deformity caused by damage to the nasal septum.

Antibiotics that are used during treatment kill the bacteria which lead to leprosy. However, while this treatment could cure the disease & prevent it from becoming worse, it doesn’t reverse the damage of nerve or the physical disfiguration which could have taken place before diagnosis. Thus, it’s crucial that the disease shall be diagnosed as soon as possible prior to any permanent damage of nerve.

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