Elephantiasis Symptoms, Treatments, Pictures, Diagnosis and Preventions

What is elephantiasis?

Elephantiasis is a parasitic infection which results in swelling of the legs and arms. This disease is caused by the filarial worm. The mode of transmission is from human to human via the female mosquito when it takes a blood meal.

It is basically a syndrome caused by nematode parasite called the filarial worm.

This parasite when enters into a human body it grows into an adult worm that lives in the lymphatic system of the human body.


Common name of elephantiasis:-

  • Elephant leg
  • Barbados leg
  • Mal de cayenne
  • Morbus Hercules
  • Myelon lymphangioma


As mentioned earlier it is transmitted by female mosquito.

When an infected female mosquito bites a person, she may inject the worm larvae into the bloodstream. These worm larvae further reproduce and spread throughout the bloodstream, where they can live for many years.

It can be caused by several other different types of parasitic worms, including Wuchereria bancrofti, brugia malayi , and B. Timor.

Additional causes include:-

  • Leishmaniasis
  • Tuberculosis
  • Leprosy
  • Repeated streptococcal infection
  • Trauma
  • Surgery radiation

Symptoms / Signs of elephantiasis:-

Most of the times, Symptoms appear late, until years of infection.

They attack bloodstream n block the circulation and cause fluid to accumulate in the affected part.

The important symptoms include:-

  • Fever
  • Malaise
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Body ache
  • Tiredness
  • External genital organs affected.
  • Male: – enlargement of scrotum
  • Female: – enlargement of vulva
  • Secondary bacterial and fungal infections
  • Enlarged groin lymph nodes
  • Blocked lymph ducts
  • Severe swelling
  • Brawny skin color
  • Fibrotic skin tissue
  • Impaired lymphatic drainage
  • Massive leg or arm swelling
  • Pebbly skin appearance
  • Skin ulceration
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Patient discomfort
  • Thick skin tissue
  • Roughened skin surface
  • Heavy infected part

How to diagnose:-

Complete case history: –

Try to ask the patient about the duration, aggravating and relieving factors associated with the disease.  Listen to the patient careful as history is very beneficial to rule out the disease.

Medical check-up: patients-

The patient’s complete medical check up done rule out any other disorders associated or not.

Identification of characteristic symptoms: –

Carefully record the symptoms and signs to properly investigate the course of the disease.

Complete blood test: –

The blood test reveals many circulating parasites which is very beneficial to rule out the cause of the disease.

An advanced immunodiagnostic

Urine examination


  • South America
  • Central Africa
  • Asia
  • The Pacific islands
  • Caribbean



It is said that it occurs due to absorption of inuring mineral particles from the soil through the feet of barefoot persons. Further, this minute mineral particle causes an immune response which further results in the formation of inflammatory masses of nodules (granulomas) in the lymph vessels of the feet and legs.Hereditary lymphedema.



Wear Shoes


This will help cover your feet’s and protect them from a mosquito or other chemicals.

Wear Lots of Coverage Clothes

Coverage- Clothes

Try to wear a lot of full body coverage clothes once going outside specially while working on the farms. This will protect you from mosquito bites, as by limiting the skin exposure.

Apply Ointment

Apply Ointment

Applying the ointment always acts as a shield against the microfilaria. Even if you get infected applying ointment will decrease the severity and cleanse your skin and the lymph nodes, giving you faster results.

Compressive Bandages


Compressive bandages help in secreting the lymphatic juice, which was blocked before causing swelling of the affected part.

Spraying to Kill Mosquitoes

Spraying to Kill Mosquitoes

This will help in creating a mosquito free environment.

Surgical Removal of the Infected Tissue

If you feel like having an infection, then immediately consult a doctor, the skin specialist, to prevent the further infection.

Use Bug Spray

 Bug Spray

The main motive is to keep the mosquitoes away. Using a bug spray will make the unwanted vectors away.

Wash Hands, Feet’s and Body

Wash Hands

This will keep your body clean, and help prevent any serious infection. Once you come back home from outside, it is must to wash your hands and feet’s.

Use Antibiotics to Prevent Infection

Antibiotics to Prevent Infection

It is very useful to use antibiotics to prevent infections.


It is very necessary to get symptomatic relief. Therefore, many options are there to prevent the adverse effects. Such as, washing your hands , feet, and body after coming from outside as it will prevent any further infection.

Daily washing of the affected part with soap and safe and clean water to prevent secondary infections like any bacterial of fungal infections.

Apart from this simple exercises of the affected limb such as elevation of the limb and treatment of cracks and entry points provides significant relief to the patient from acute episodes and slows progression of the disease.

Other things you can do is maintaining a good hygiene wearing clean, full body coverage clothes. And the use of antibiotics also plays a great role in giving symptomatic relief.

Management of the infection:-

The two troubles in dealing elephantiasis are mainly filarial infection (active) and lymphatic swelling.

The importance is given to subside the infection first.

And then additional surgical treatment may be done in the cases of large swelling even after the control of the infection.

Conventional medicines are also available, but trying natural treatment is more recommended.

Home remedies for the treatment of elephantiasis:-

Vitamin A

Vitamin A

Sweet potatoes, carrots, apricots, etc are very much rich in vitamin A and are very much beneficial in elephantiasis. There are certain other herbs which are just miraculous.



The enzyme that is present in cloves helps in killing all types of immature parasite and adequately remove them from the bloodstream.

How to use- Take full cloves grind them from best results. Add the ground cloves tea or coffee or any other drinks as per your choice. You can also use full cloves in place of ground ones.

Agar Wood

Agar wood

Add water in the agar wood powder and mix it to make it a pate and apply it on the affected area for about nearby 15-20

Butterfly Pea


Add the roots and water to make a paste, now take a pinch of pate with Luke warm water. You can also replace roots with seeds. The procedure is- powder the seeds of butterfly pea and add dry ginger and now mix the rock salt in the mixture properly. Now again, take a pinch with Luke warm water two times a day.

Black Walnut Oil

black walnut oil

The substances present inside the black walnut oil helps to reduce the number of immature parasite entering the bloodstream.

The method is- add 3 drops of black walnut oil in a cup of warm water and drink this solution 2 times daily. Repeat these steps for at least 6 weeks you will find out amazing results.

Horse Gram


Firstly make powder of horse gram and send of ant’s hill. Mix egg white in the power and now apply the paste on the affected area twice a day daily.

Cows Urine

cows urine

Cow’s urine is very beneficial in treating many diseases. Add cow’s urine in a mixture containing giant hogweed, ginger powder and white colored mustard (take 10gm of each).make a mucilage and apply it on the feet for improved results.

A Mixture of Seeds

Seeds Mixture

Pulverize castor, white mustard, damiana, and horseradish in unison and apply it on the affected area once a day daily.

A Mixture of Herbs

Mixture of herbs

Firstly prepare a mixture using a marigold flower, cleavers leaves and roots of pokeweed, blue flag, yellow dock and Echinacea and take it twice a daily.

Blend Oil and Bhringraj

Blend oil

Blend (til ka tel) as known sesame oil bhringraj known as Eclipta alba in a ratio 1:2 and apply on affected parts.

Brahmi leaves

brahmi leaves

Brahmi leaves is good for good health. Apply the paste of Brahmi leaves on the affected area relentlessly for half an hour. Repeat it twice a day.

Precaution Measures or advice for elephantiasis:

Keep yourself Clean

Habits are important; always make a habit of washing hands, feet, and the body itself while having anything you eat. If you are the infected one then your skin will remain clean anyway. Remember it always that the more dirt the more damage.

Keep Mosquito away from yourself

Mosquito repellent creams, insecticides, protective clothing, bed nets, or whatever but keep mosquito away. Close the windows before evening up to morning to prevent mosquitoes invading your house and cause the unwanted diseases.

How to avoid mosquitoes- wear full sleeves, full-length pants, and socks if you can. Wear shoes they act as a protective thick layer from the dangerous mosquitoes. Along with this avoid minerals entering through your bare foot.

Always Keep your Surrounding Clean:-

If you keep your surrounding clean- no mosquito no bite. Vector control is the main aim. You should put the effort in cleaning the breeding sites like the stagnant water of mosquitoes near your homes.

Special advice to Foreigners

The chances of elephantiasis are more intense in people who never have been exposed to it before then it is native people of tropical areas where it is a part and parcel. The reason is better tolerance which is immunity.

To avoid any mishap, it will be good on the part of the tourist to consult a travel physician to gain knowledge about the recent preventive measures before visiting any out country.


Elephantiasis can complicate itself to very dangerous levels if left untreated in the early stages. There are following drastic complications that can occur in infected person:-

  1. Hydrocele: – it is a very common in a man who suffers from this disease. It is actually an accumulation of fluids in the testicles. This is a very painful condition which makes the person impotent.

Similarly, if the infection spreads to penis and scrotum in males it becomes very painful condition and can lead to impotence. And now, in women’s, it can spread to vulva this could make it possible for the women to enjoy penetrative sex and also conceive.

Tumors growths are also seen and which leads to condition more severe.

  1. It can cause damage to lungs in the form of eosinophilia in which there is a rapid increase in the number of eosinophils in the bloodstream, this condition gives the symptom of a whizzing cough, nausea, vomiting, headache, body pain, malaise.
  2. Prolonged infection can cause failure of the kidneys. As it can hinder the urine formation and micturition process.

WHO Response

World health Assembly resolution encourages member states to eliminate lymphatic filariasis as a public health problem. who launched its global program to eliminate lymphatic filariasis in 2012. The who neglected tropical diseases road map reconfirm the target date for achieving elimination of the disease by 2020.

WHO Strategies

It is mainly based on two important components which are mentioned below.

  • Stopping the spread of infection through large-scale annual treatment of all eligible people in an area or region where infection is present; and
  • Alleviating the suffering caused by lymphatic filiarises through increased morbidity management and disability prevention activities.

Large scale treatment (preventive chemotherapy)

Elimination of lymphatic filiarisees is possible by stopping the spread of infection through preventive chemotherapy thus who recommended preventive chemotherapy strategies for lymphatic filarises elimination is mass drug administration (MDA).

MDA is a combination of two drugs given annually at a risk population. These medicines have a limited effect on adult parasites but effectively it does reduce the amount of microfilaria in the bloodstream and prevent the spread of parasites to mosquitoes.

6 countries (Cambodia, cook island, Maldives, Niue, Srilanka, and Vanuatu) acknowledged as achieving as the elimination of L.F as a public health problem.

13 countries have successfully implemented recommended strategies, stopped large scale treatment and are under surveillance to demonstrate that elimination has achieved.

WHO ESTIMATED: about worldwide there are

  • More than 1 billion people at the risk of infection, one-third live in Africa.
  • More than 120 million people infected, 40 live in Africa.
  • 44 million people with symptoms.

Last advice but not the least for the infected one: – BE STRONG, DONT LOSE HOPE.

Health All in One