Using Drugs for Leprosy and Understanding Reactions

Treating Leprosy With Medicines

Leprosy treatment often includes antibiotics to kill Mycobacterium leprae (the bacteria that cause the disease). However, the bacteria can be resistant to certain antibiotics. Therefore, several antibiotics are often combined. The three most commonly used are:
 
 
Other antibiotics, such as clarithromycin, ofloxacin, levofloxacin, and minocycline, also have excellent antibacterial activity against Mycobacterium leprae.
 
Medicines that are used as treatments for leprosy can be provided at no cost to patients by their family doctor or through the Hansen's Disease Clinic closest to them. A person should see improvements after two to three months after beginning treatment.
 

Treatments for Leprosy Reactions

Some people may experience what is called reaction after leprosy treatment has begun. This reaction:
 
  • Can also occur in untreated leprosy patients, although it is less common
  • Is a response of the immune system to dead or dying bacteria
  • Can cause the leprosy rash to become worse
  • Can cause fever, swollen lymph nodes, and joint pain
  • Can cause painful inflammation of nerves (neuritis), which can affect sensation and/or strength.
 
Reactions can be mild or severe. If mild, no treatment, or only over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, may be sufficient. More severe reactions can be harmful to nerves and should be promptly treated by a physician. Treatments for leprosy reactions can involve a corticosteroid medicine, such as:
 
 

Leprosy Facts

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