A boy with Leprosy A boy with Leprosy


About Leprosy

Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, is a mildly infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae. The bacteria affect the skin, peripheral nerves, and the eyes.

Leprosy is curable, but if left untreated it can cause severe disabilities and blindness. 


The transmission of leprosy is still not entirely clear, though it is widely thought to passed on by breathing in infected respiratory droplets. 

If leprosy is recognised in its early stages, it can be treated easily and it will not cause any disabilities. 

Many of the social problems associated with leprosy could also be avoided if people were treated as early as possible.

Signs and Symptoms

The first signs of leprosy are usually:

  • Discoloured skin patches with sensory loss. Leprosy patches usually occur slowly, and they do not itch or cause any pain. 
  • Unusual sensations (numbness/tingling/burning) in hands and/or feet. 
  • Weakness in hands and/or feet
  • Difficulty holding and lifting things
  • Difficulty moving and walking


Leprosy is curable with a combination of antibiotics, known as multidrug therapy (MDT). The World Health Organisation (WHO) provides MDT free of charge to all endemic countries.

The treatment consists of a cocktail of antibiotics for 6-12 months, depending on the type of leprosy a person has. Rifampicin, Dapsone, and Clofazimine are used in combination with each other to cure a person of leprosy. In 1945, Lepra were the first organisation to use Dapsone in treatment for leprosy.

What is leprosy? 

Watch our short video on Leprosy.

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