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Hansen’s Disease (Leprosy)

Hansen’s disease, most commonly known as leprosy is a worldwide disorder that affects several parts of the body. It is caused by two bacteria – Mycobacterium leprae as well as Mycobacterium lepromatosis. Leper patients develop a range of symptoms and signals, that we list down in detail in this section. In men, leprosy is pretty common since it is a communicable disease. As men tend to work more outside and on physical tasks, the chance of communicating this disease also increases.

Physicians also categorize leprosy based on the bacteria present: paucibacillary and multibacillary. Both categories are also discussed. Leprosy also involves a number of diagnosis and efficient treatments, and how preventions help those from not contacting the contagious bacteria from others.

What is leprosy?

Leprosy is a chronic bacterial infection primarily caused by two bacteria – Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepramatosis. Both bacteria can easily be communicable among several people through coughing and contact of nasal fluids. This is a silent infection and does not show its symptoms at least till 20 years, although this differs extensively from person to person.

Leprosy is then differentiated as paucibacaillary or multibacillary depending on the number of pigmented numb skin patches, with the former category having four or fewer patches while the latter can have more than five. Effective diagnosis involves finding acid-fast bacilli in a skin test or DNA checking using polymerase chain reaction.

Symptoms of leprosy

Leprosy shows some common symptoms. Primarily affecting the skin and the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord, it develops several sores and bumps on the skin surface that does not go away for years.

It may take years for the symptoms to fully develop resulting in some very horrifying disfiguring and injury. However, since the bacteria that causes this disease affects the nerves, the patient never feels pain at the spot where the disease struck. Eventually, some parts like fingers and toes, simply ‘rub’ off and sometimes may even come out without any pain.

To sum it up, leprosy shows the following symptoms:

  • Granulomas of the nerves.
  • Sores in the eyes or respiratory tract leading to difficulty breathing and proper vision.
  • Loss of any feeling at the affected points.
  • Weakness in the muscles.

The most typical symptoms of the disease is that it develops sores on the skin. A patient should immediately visit a physician since leprosy is a curable infection and immediate action can save one’s appearance manifold


Your physician will ask you to donate a smear of the affected skin for tests. A skin biopsy will thus be conducted and concluded if leprosy is present or not. A skin smear test will also be done to see for multibacillary leprosy. Strangely, paucibacillary leprosy cannot be spotted too easily.


Leprosy is treated through several medications. A doctor will prescribe antibiotics to deal with the infection while medicines like prednisone and steroids help control nerve damage and pain. Other medications like thalidomide are useful for treating skin nodules.