There are around 208,000 people infected with leprosy, according to 2018 data from the World Health Organization, or WHO. Leprosy, which tends to affect children more than adults, can cause nerve damage in the arms, legs and skin. However, disfigurement and skin sores are the symptoms that most people associate with the disease.
Despite all the damage the disease can cause to a person's body, it's not that contagious and effective treatments are available. Leprosy, also known as Hansen's disease, can only be transmitted when an individual is in frequent contact with the droplets from an infected person's nose and mouth.
Skin patches are one symptom of leprosy. There are two major types of leprosy with varying symptoms, including tuberculoid leprosy and lepromatous leprosy. Those infected with tuberculoid leprosy have limited disease and minimal bacteria in the skin and nerves. In contrast, individuals with lepromatous leprosy have widespread disease and numerous bacteria, thus this form is more contagious.
Skin patches can vary between the two types of leprosy. One or only a few flat, pale-colored skin patches appear on those who are infected with tuberculoid leprosy, while people with lepromatous leprosy experience widespread skin bumps and patches.1‘Leprosy.’ NORD, rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/leprosy