Leprosy | Symptoms

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What are the symptoms of leprosy?

Leprosy progresses very slowly. Most people who have leprosy do not develop symptoms for at least a year after being infected by the bacteria. In most cases, it takes 5 to 7 years for symptoms to develop.

Leprosy damages the nerves and muscles, and may cause sores, lesions, lumps and bumps to appear on the skin. There are 2 types of leprosy: tuberculoid leprosy and lepromatous leprosy. Tuberculoid leprosy is the less severe and less contagious form of the disease. Lepromatous leprosy is more severe and generalized. It is also more contagious. This type of leprosy may affect organs such as the kidneys, testicles (in men), eyes and nose.

Depending on the type of leprosy, symptoms may include:

  • Skin sores or lesions that do not heal after several months. Lesions are flat or slightly elevated and light in color or slightly red.
  • Skin lumps and bumps that can be disfiguring.
  • Numbness of the skin because of damage to the nerves under the skin.
  • Muscle weakness

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 11/09

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