Leprosy

    • Brief

    • Leprosy is an infection caused by bacteria (mycobacterium leprae). This disease causes sores, ulcers and weakness to the body parts that are affected. These parts include the skin, eyes, legs, hands, feet, nose and throat. If this condition is left untreated, it can cause serious complications such as crippling of hands and feet, paralysis and blindness. Seek medical care when you notice that you have skin sores that do not heal for weeks or rashes that look unusual.

    • What are the symptoms?

    • The following are common symptoms of leprosy

      • Presence of skin sores, ulcers or lesions. These lesions appear lighter than your skin.
      • Not able to feel your hands, feet and legs.
      • Muscle weakness.
      • Pains in your joints.
      • Eye damage or loss of eyebrows.
      • Loss of your fingers, toes or nose. This happens when the disease is advanced and severe.

    • What are the causes?

    • Leprosy is caused by an infection with the bacterium, Mycobaterium leprae.

    • What are the things that put you at risk?

    • Your chance of contracting leprosy increases with one or more of the following risk factors:

      • Living with someone that has leprosy.
      • The presence of medical conditions such as cancer and diabetes that affect your body's defence system.
      • Close contact with animals that tend to carry the bacteria that cause leprosy. Examples of these animals include African chimpanzee and armadillos.
      • Children between the ages of 5 and 15 are at higher risks.
      • Despite worldwide progress in fighting leprosy, the disease still does occurs in Asia and Africa, including Nigeria.

    • When to visit a doctor?

    • It is important that you visit your healthcare provider immediately you notice any of the following:

      • Loss of feeling on any part of your body especially your hands and legs.
      • Skin sores and ulcers that do not go away after many weeks.
      • You've been living with someone who was diagnosed with leprosy.

    • How to prevent?

    • Preventing contact with cough droplets from infected patients is an effective means of preventing transmission. You should ensure appropriate ventilation in homes, prevent overcrowding and take treatment early when diagnosed.

    • How to manage and treat?

    • Self-care tips:

      • Eating a healthy diet including lots of fruit and vegetables boosts your body’s defence system.
      • Take care of your feet by soaking them in water and oiling them to prevent cracks.
      • Do stretching exercises to prevent stiffness.
      • Do not use herbal remedies without first talking to your healthcare provider.

      Treatment options:

      • Your healthcare provider will prescribe you antibiotics that can fight the infection.
      • Your healthcare provider may give you pain medications to relieve pain.
      • In severe cases, you may also need surgery to treat the condition or complications.

    • Kulawa cares

    • Diagnosing leprosy and treating early is very important in preventing complications. These complications include loss of toes, fingers and nose. Other complications include difficulty moving your legs and hands and the inability to feel pain in your hands or feet, which can lead to serious damage to fingers and toes. Do not stay with someone who is infected with leprosy and is not being treated for it. If you have leprosy, take your medicines as recommended by your healthcare provider. Get support from your friends and family to help with emotional difficulties that you may experience due to leprosy.