World Leprosy Day is an annual observance day celebrated on January 30th in India even though the world celebrates it on the last Sunday of the first month of the year. The day is observed as a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi and to raise awareness about leprosy. Notably, Mahatma Gandhi had worked day and night during his time to help the leprosy patients get some relief from the condition. Today, on World Leprosy Day 2021, here we tell you all about this condition.Also Read - Can Cow Urine-Dung Cure Skin Disorders, Arthritis & Leprosy? India's Cow Commission Says So

What is Leprosy?

Leprosy is an infectious disease that is characterized by skin lesions, muscle weakness, numbness in your arms, feet, and legs. This chronic condition is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium leprae. It affects the nerves of your extremities, upper respiratory tract, and lining of your nose. Also known as Hansen’s disease, leprosy leads to nerve damage, severe disfigurement, and skin ulcers. This further decreases your body’s sensation to touch, pain or temperature. Also Read - Indian Scientists Testing Multi-Purpose Vaccine, Effective Against Leprosy, to Fight COVID-19: Report

You contract leprosy by coming into contact with the mucosal secretion of a person infected with the condition. This usually happens when an infected person sneezes or coughs in front of you. Though leprosy is not highly contagious, constant contact with an infected person can increase your risk of contracting the disease. Notably, the disease is hard to diagnose early as the incubation period of the disease is an average of five years. The first symptom of leprosy may even take 20 years to appear. Also Read - Leprosy: Top Myths And Misconceptions Surrounding The Condition, Busted For You

Diagnosis And Treatment of Leprosy

To diagnose leprosy, physical examination and biopsy are performed. A doctor removes a small piece of your skin and tests it in a lab. To know the type of leprosy that has affected you, your doctor will perform a lepromin skin test.

To treat this condition, various multidrug therapies are available worldwide free of charge. To kill the bacteria causing leprosy, your doctor may prescribe you certain antibiotics including dapsone, minocycline, ofloxacin, etc. Also, you may have to take anti-inflammatory medicines.

Complications of Leprosy

Delayed diagnosis and treatment of the disease can cause certain severe complications including blindness, kidney failure, erectile dysfunction, infertility, inflammation in your iris, etc.