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Dr. Andrew Rynne

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Have Hansen's disease and pale white patches on fingers. What is the cure?

Answered by
Dr. Roopa Hiremath

Infectious Diseases Specialist

Practicing since :2002

Answered : 877 Questions

Posted on Wed, 11 Dec 2013 in General Health
Question: I tried about an hour ago about Hansen's disease and my computer wouldn't connect after y'all said a medium question would cost $35 and I clicked okay but it would never go through, Finally got a connection and trying again, but it could happen any time. Please dont give up on me. I really want someone who knows the symptoms of this disease to answer me. The symptoms are very difficult to assess unless you have worked in that field. I dont want to go to my doctor to let me know where to go as it would be on record there and I may not even have it. The 3 symptoms I have are pale white places on my ring finger of right hand, been that way for over 6 months. My doctor was going to freeze them if still there after 3 months, but we both forgot. I jokingly asked "Do I have leprosy," remembering about XXXXXXX in the Bible. I don't think he recoreded any of that. Anyway in the meantime those 3 fingers between little finger and thumb have become numb, as in Neuropathy. Also for many months I have had a little row of I guess they are nodules along right side of my nose. I have tried antibiotic, no luck, and olive oil, no luck. They stay the same. Please don't leave me, even if my pc acts up. I just hope it goes . my email address is YYYY@YYYY Do I hit anything for you to see this or do you automatically see it?
Answered by Dr. Roopa Hiremath 2 hours later
Brief Answer: Hansen's disease (Leprosy) Detailed Answer: Hi, Welcome to health care magic. I have gone through your query, I understand your concern regarding the pale patches on your finger. Let me explain few details about leprosy so that I can relieve your anxiety. Leprosy is a disease now confined to developing countries and is still found in India, South east Asia and Brazil. It is an infection caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium leprae which is spread mainly by contact with infected person. This disease involves the skin, peripheral nerves and nasal mucosa. There are at least four types of leprosy - lepromatous, tuberculoid, borderline and indeterminate types. Numb patches of skin is seen in Tuberculoid type of leprosy. These patches are clearly defined patches and no sensation(anesthesia) is felt only in those areas of skin. Simple bed side test can be done to confirm the anesthesia. It is called the pin test where a blunt pin can be used to touch the anesthetic patch with patients eyes closed and patient is asked if he/she is feeling any sensation. But this test is subjective. Leprosy can be confirmed by a slit skin smear of the anesthetic patch for acid fast bacilli (Leprae bacilli) In your case, I am suspecting neuropathy rather than leprosy as you mention numbness of the whole finger where as in leprosy very clearly demarcated areas of numbness is seen. Nodules on the nose need to be examined to rule out the cause. Such nodules may be seen in spectacle users where nodules develop on the bridge of the nose. I hope I have cleared your doubts. Please get back if any more clarifications. Thanks.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
Follow up: Dr. Roopa Hiremath 26 hours later
I was not online with the above question when I submitted it so don't know if you received it. I copied it, here it is in case you didn't get it: Thank you for your allaying most of my worries over this. I want you to know I do wear glasses but the nose piece does not touch the area where the "nodules" are. Does that make a difference in your opinion that they are not related to Hansen's disease? We live in a rural area. Before I contacted your group I had read up on the disease. They still do not know if armadillos cause it and we do have them in our yards here. We don't take our shoes off before entering the house so you know what all that entails. I am wondering since one medical site said it takes 10 years to get an outbreak after being exposed, if it still might be Hansen's, what I have. I certainly don't want it to be, but I am wanting you to cover these things too. One place said I had a month to ask questions. The above countdown says two days which is plenty. Do I still have that much time?
Answered by Dr. Roopa Hiremath 10 hours later
Brief Answer: Armadillos are used for leprae culture Detailed Answer: Hi, Apologies for the late reply, Nine banded armadillos are used for culture of leprae bacilli. These animals are inoculated with leprae bacilli in their footpads. This is done only for research purposes. Armadillos do get leprosy similar to humans but there is no evidence of this animal spreading the disease to humans. If you are still in doubt, you can get a slit skin smear of the edges of the patches and get it tested for acid fast bacilli. Coming to the nodules, if they are increasing in size, becoming painful or causing discomfort then you have to get them examined by a doctor nearby you who can suggest further testing if required. You might have to get a biopsy of the nodules if necessary. I still stand by my previous answer that it is most unlikely to be Hansen's. I hope I have cleared all your doubts. Thanks.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar

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