What are the symptoms of leprosy?

Updated: Aug 24, 2018
  • Author: Darvin Scott Smith, MD, MSc, DTM&H; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Answer

Symptoms are as follows:

  • Painless skin patch accompanied by loss of sensation but not itchiness (Loss of sensation is a feature of tuberculoid leprosy, unlike lepromatous leprosy, in which sensation is preserved.) Chronic insensate patch is seen in the image below.
  • Chronic insensate patch due to leprosy infection. Chronic insensate patch due to leprosy infection. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Courtesy of D. Scott Smith, MD.
  • Loss of sensation or paresthesias where the affected peripheral nerves are distributed
  • Wasting and muscle weakness
  • Foot drop or clawed hands (may result from neuritic pain and rapid peripheral nerve damage; as seen in the image below)
  • Characteristic clawed hand deformity caused by uln Characteristic clawed hand deformity caused by ulnar involvement in leprosy. Daloa, Ivory Coast. Courtesy of D. Scott Smith, MD.
  • Ulcerations on hands or feet (ulcer at the metatarsal head is seen in the image below)
  • Chronic nonhealing ulcer at the metatarsal head re Chronic nonhealing ulcer at the metatarsal head resulting from loss of sensation in the feet. Karigiri, Tamil Nadu, India. Courtesy of Tara Ramachandra.
  • Lagophthalmos, iridocyclitis, corneal ulceration, and/or secondary cataract due to nerve damage and direct bacillary skin or eye invasion [12]

Symptoms in reactions

Symptoms in reactions are as follows:

  • Type 1 (reversal) - Sudden onset of skin redness and new lesions

  • Type 2 (erythema nodosum leprosum [ENL]; as seen in the image below) - Many skin nodules, fever, redness of eyes, muscle pain, and joint pain

  • Patient with erythema nodosum leprosum type 2 reac Patient with erythema nodosum leprosum type 2 reaction several weeks after initiation of drug therapy. This photograph was taken after tendon release. Redwood City, California. Courtesy of D. Scott Smith, MD.

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