Leprosy is a chronic disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae and M. lepromatosis. Leprosy can be treated and if left untreated, it can be progressive leading to the permanent damage to the skin, nerves, limbs and the eyes. Contrary to the common conceptions, leprosy does not cause body parts to fall off, although they become numb and diseased as a result of leprosy.
Other indications include:
• Skin stiffness and dryness
• Loss of fingers and toes
• Muscle weakness, especially in the hands and feet
• Enlarged nerves(with muscle weakness and sensory loss), especially those around the elbow and knee
Cardinal indications of leprosy:
An individual should be regarded as having Leprosy if he or she shows ONE of the following cardinal indications:
a) Skin Lesion consistent with deformities or sensory loss.
b) Positive Skin Smears.
The skin lesion can be single (Single skin lesion - SSL) or multiple; usually less pigmented than the surrounding normal skin. Sometimes the lesion is reddish or coppery colour (Erythematous). A variety of skin lesions may be seen as macules (flat); papules (raised) or nodules. The sensory loss on the lesion is total for all 3 modalities (Touch, Thermal and pain).