Friday, December 1, 2017

(LML) Fear from leprosy and lepraphobia


Leprosy Mailing List – December 1,  2017

Ref.:    (LML) Fear from leprosy and lepraphobia

From:  Khalid Al Aboud, Makkah, Saudi Arabia


Dear Pieter,



In this comment, I wish to share the LML and the blog reader an interesting observation of 2 adults patient who are having pruritus from systemic disorders visiting a far leprosy centre as they are fearing from being affected by leprosy.


In several occasions in history of mankind, fear from catastrophic diseases such as syphilis , plague and leprosy were present. A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder defined by a persistent fear of an object or situation. The phobia typically results in a rapid onset of fear and is present for more than six months. Phobias can be divided  into specific phobias , social phobias, and agoraphobia.


Among phobias from illness (nosophobia), carcinophobia (from cancer), lice (pediculophobia), and leprophobia ( from leprosy ) seem to be more frequent.


In his incisive analysis of lepra-phobia in nineteenth century white America, Gussow argues that one of its inspirations was racism. In a country that was undergoing a demographic transformation by immigration, the entrants were particularly feared and stigmatised by white Americans, as it was the case of the Chinese, who according to the 1882 legislation were prohibited to immigrate into the United States (Gussow, 1989, p. 116).


I can see few published reports in the Pubmed (listed below about leprophobia). Nevertheless , I guess the condition is not frequently recognized and under reported also.


In addition, I feel that the term (leprophobia ), is not well defined in the literature.

Is it fear from contacting and getting the leprosy from leprosy patients or is it a fear from being affected by the disorder. Both situations are related but in fact they are different.


Looking to hear the experience of my colleagues about this topic.



Dr Khalid Al Aboud

Consultant Dermatopathologist 

Head of Public Health Dept

King Faisal Hospital 


Saudi Arabia




-       Gussow, Zachary 1989 Leprosy, racism and public health: social policy in chronic disease control. Boulder, Westview Press.

-       Phobia .[A page in Wikipedia ]. Available at;

-       Pankajam R, et al. Pityriasis rubra pilaris with leprophobia.

           Int J Lepr Other Mycobact Dis. 1987 Sep;55(3):555-6.

-       Browne SG. Leprophobia West Afr Med J. 1965.Oct;14(5):175-80.

-       Belda W. [A case of leprophobia treated with hypnosis].

           Rev Bras Leprol. 1964 Jan-Dec.;32(1):35-7.


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