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World Leprosy Day

Dr. Shalini V.R. ,Consultant Dermatologist ,SUT Hospital, Pattom
World Leprosy Day

World Leprosy Day is observed on the last Sunday of January. This day was chosen as a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, who set an example through his own life to embrace and care for leprosy patients.

Leprosy is a disease that has been recorded since ancient times, but many myths about the disease still persist. Ours is a society of those who suspect any spot on the skin to be leprosy, and those who doubt whether leprosy exists in this new age.

What is leprosy disease?

It is a disease caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium leprae. Leprosy is not hereditary. The disease can be affected due to many factors such as constant contact with an untreated patient and the type of leprosy the patient is infected with. But the fact is that no leprosy can be spread from a treated patient. The chance of transmission is reduced by 99% with the first dose of the drug.

How to recognize leprosy?

1. Discoloured patches of skin – white, red or bright spots.

2. Less sensitive parts.

3. Swelling of feet and hands.

4. Unhealed wounds, deformed limbs.

5. Loss of Eyebrows or eyelashes.

6. Lumps on earlobes.

Thus, leprosy appears with various symptoms.

What to do if you suspect you have leprosy?

Consult the nearest Asha worker, PHC, or a doctor.

How to diagnose or confirm the disease?

Leprosy can usually be diagnosed through clinical examination, slit skin smear and skin biopsy, both of which are very quick procedures.

How is it treated?

Treatment depends on the type of leprosy.

  • Multidrug therapy – MDT is the practice of taking drugs orally.
  • The duration of treatment can be from six months to one year.
  • MDT is available free of cost in government hospitals.
What are the complications of leprosy?

It may lead to deformation if not treated on time. Also the limbs may shrink and affect their function.

Can leprosy be treated and cured?

a. Leprosy is a disease that can be cured if MDT medicines are taken correctly.

b. MDT can prevent the complications due to leprosy if started at the right time.