Leprosy does not have stages, but signs that a person has leprosy include pale-colored skin sores, bumps or lumps that do not disappear after many weeks or months, according to WebMD. Leprosy may also cause nerve damage, which includes muscle weakness or the loss of feeling in the legs and arms.
It usually takes three to five years following exposure to the leprosy bacteria before symptoms appear, and in some cases, can take up to 20 years, explains WebMD. Leprosy is curable, and the World Health Organization offers free treatment to anyone who develops leprosy. The type of treatment depends on the type of leprosy a person has, and usually antibiotics are part of the treatment plan. Usually a person takes two or more antibiotics, and take the medications up to a year or more, depending on the severity of leprosy. If a person develops nerve damage from leprosy, the antibiotics cannot treat this symptom.
To treat and control nerve pain and damage with leprosy, a doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs, such as steroids, states WebMD. People who have leprosy may also take thalidomide, which is a strong medication that suppresses the immune system. This medication also helps to treat the skin nodules from leprosy, but it has severe side effects for women who become pregnant or who are pregnant. These women should never take thalidomide to treat leprosy as it causes birth defects.