Diseases Home > Treatment for Leprosy
Antibiotics, along with supportive care, which is managing symptoms of leprosy and any associated complications, are commonly used to cure leprosy. Some people experience certain reactions after beginning treatment, such as increased rash, fever, swollen lymph nodes, and joint pain. After successful leprosy treatment, people are generally considered free of active infection.
Historically, there was no cure for leprosy (which is also known as Hansen's disease), and lepers were segregated for extended periods. However, today, the disease can generally be cured with antibiotics. With early diagnosis and treatment, leprosy symptoms and complications can be minimized or avoided altogether.
Treatment for leprosy differs, depending on the form of the disease. It will generally continue for one year with tuberculoid leprosy and for two years with lepromatous leprosy. Options typically include medicines combined with supportive care. Supportive care refers to treating symptoms of the disease and any associated complications.
Medicines Used to Treat Leprosy
Leprosy treatment includes antibiotics to kill Mycobacterium leprae (the bacteria that cause the condition). However, this bacteria can be resistant to certain antibiotics. Therefore, several antibiotics are often combined. The three most commonly used drugs are:
Other antibiotics, such as clarithromycin, ofloxacin, levofloxacin, and minocycline, also have excellent antibacterial activity against Mycobacterium leprae.
Medicine that is used to treat leprosy can sometimes 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.
Treating Leprosy With Supportive Care
Supportive care does not affect the progression of leprosy, but it can help reduce symptoms and minimize complications. It is important to note that many of the deformities and disabilities associated with this disease are preventable. Supportive care includes consultation and treatment from:
- Orthopedic surgeons (bone doctors)
- Eye doctors
- Physical therapists.
Examples of treatment for leprosy-associated complications can include:
- Specialized footwear
- Reconstructive surgery.