Symptoms of Leprosy

The severity and type of the damage done to leprosy patients depends on the type of leprosy that they have (Tuberculoid Leprosy or Lepromatous Leprosy). They only start to see the physical alterations after 6 months of actually being infected with the Mycobacterium leprae (the bacteria that causes leprosy). The main areas that affected for types of leprosy include skin areas and peripheral nerves.

Tuberculoid Leprosy:
  • Muscle weakness in limbs
  • Loss of fingers and toes
  • Causes fingers and toes to shorten due to the absorption of cartilage into the body
  • Eye problems which often leads to blindness
  •  Skin stiffness and dryness
  •   Enlarged nerves, especially those around the elbow (ulnar nerve) and knee (peroneal nerve).
Lepromatous Leprosy (severe form of the disease)
Skin rashes (Skin lesions) can be found:
  • Face
  • Ears
  • Wrists
  • Knees
  • Buttocks
Types of rashes:
  • Small or large
  • Flat or raised
  • Light or dark
Other Symptoms and Complications:
  • Thinning of eyebrows and eyelashes
  • Collapsing of the nose
  • Bloody nose
  • Laryngitis (inflammation of larynx)
  • Swelling of lymph nodes in groin and armpits (causes infections)
  • Scarring of testes, which leads to infertility
  • Gynecomastia (enlargement of breasts in males)
  • Blindness
  • Arthritis

People, who are diagnosed with leprosy, face severe and permanent symptoms that alter their lifestyles. Almost all Leprosy patients are bound to lose toes and fingers which will make their everyday lives harder. In places such as India and Africa people make a living by doing a lot of physical labour. The loss or paralysis of limbs and damaged eyesight can stop them from making a living, leaving them with no other means of survival. Symptoms such as rashes and laryngitis bring severe pain and discomfort for the patient. Apart from physical dilemmas and complications, people diagnosed with leprosy face discrimination in their societies. Because leprosy has been around for centuries, dating back to the 15 hundreds, there are many stereotypes and prejudice directed towards them. People with leprosy in India say that they are ashamed to go outside because the community refers to them as someone who is cursed for all eternity. They are also looked at as people with ritual pollutions and sins. Most leprosy patients even hide the fact that they are diagnosed with leprosy in order to avoid being judged. A lot of the symptoms of Leprosy are very distinct, meaning; they could have rashes on their face and collapsed noses. As a result, leprosy patients become outcasts and are shunned from their society. 

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