Clinical Characteristics and Treatment of Leprosy


Purpose of Review

The purpose of this study is to provide an up-to-date review of the clinical presentation, classification system, and treatment of leprosy (also known as Hansen’s disease).

Recent Findings

Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae. Leprosy affects mainly the skin and peripheral nerves with serious clinical complications, including blindness and physical deformities of the hands and feet. Leprosy is a complex microbial disease with a wide spectrum of clinical presentations and severity of disease progression and outcome. Disease classification based on bacterial indicators and the Ridley-Jopling system are standard classification systems for leprosy that enable proper categorization of different types of leprosy for evaluation and treatment purposes. Early disease detection and treatment can significantly impact the prevalence and severity of leprosy. Long term follow-up as well as disability evaluation and prevention are important measures to prevent disease relapse and to achieve a good clinical outcome for patients.


Early disease detection, multidrug therapy, frequent clinical follow-up, and proper management of tissue damage and physical disabilities as a result of peripheral nerve damage are key factors to ensure a good outcome for patients.

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Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance

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We would like to thank Mahmoud Bokhary, MD, for his valuable assistance with the bibliography of this article.

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Correspondence to Thuy Linh Phung.

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Minh Van Hoang, Duc Van Bui, and Thuy Linh Phung declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Tropical Dermatology

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Van Hoang, M., Van Bui, D. & Phung, T.L. Clinical Characteristics and Treatment of Leprosy. Curr Trop Med Rep 3, 138–143 (2016).

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  • Leprosy
  • Mycobacterium leprae
  • Paucibacillary leprosy
  • Multibacillary leprosy
  • Erythema nodosum leprosum
  • Reversal reaction