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Elephantiasis or Lymphatic Filariasis : Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

03 September, 2020 Ayesha Khanam

Elephantiasis is a medical condition in which legs, scrotum, breast, or another part of the body becomes grossly enlarged or swelled due to obstruction of lymphatic vessels, which caused by the parasitic worms and can spread person to person through infected mosquito bites. This condition is also called lymphatic filariasis. This disease is considered a neglected tropical disease (NTD). This disease is more common in tropical and subtropical areas like Southeast Asia, Africa. It is estimated that 120 million people have lymphatic filariasis worldwide.

What Are the Symptoms of Lymphatic Filariasis?

The visible and most common symptoms that you can see in elephantiasis is enlarged and swelled body parts. The swelling you can see in these parts:

  • Legs
  • Arms
  • Breast
  • Scrotum

But the legs are the most commonly affected part in lymphatic filariasis. The swelling and enlargement in the body parts can lead to pain and difficulty in mobility. The skin is also affected and become dry, thick darker, and ulcerated.

Some people also experience fever and chills during this condition. Lymphatic filariasis affects the immune system of the person.

Causes of Elephantiasis:

Elephantiasis or lymphatic filariasis is caused by nematode parasitic worms they are spread by the infected mosquito bites. There are 3 types of parasite involved which are:

  • Brugia timori
  • Wuchereria bancrofti
  • Brugia malayi

This parasitic worm affects the lymphatic system in the body. The lymphatic system helps us to remove waste and toxin from our body, if it becomes blocked then it isn't able to do its function to remove the waste and toxin from the body. Hence, leads to a backup lymphatic fluid, which causes swelling to the body parts.

Risk Factors:

  • Elephantiasis can attack people at any age of their life common risk factor for elephantiasis include:

  • People who are living in tropical and subtropical areas for a long like Africa, India, South America, Southeast Asia are at higher risk for elephantiasis.
  • Having high exposure to mosquitos for a long time
  • Living in an untidy and unhygienic place for a long time

Treatment of Elephantiasis

Infected people can take medication to kill the parasitic worm in the blood. These medications help to stop the spread of parasitic infection to others but they do not completely kill all the parasites from the body. If you want to buy any prescribed medicines you can easily order online from 3MEDS the best online medicine app in Delhi, India which provides the best medicine in India at your doorsteps.

Some antidepressant medicines that may be prescribed by your doctor will be:

  • diethylcarbamazine (DEC)
  • ivermectin (Mectizan)
  • albendazole (Albenza)
  • doxycycline

the other symptoms are also found in elephantiasis which can be managed by:

  • antihistamines
  • analgesics
  • antibiotics

not everyone with elephantiasis needs medication this is because they don't carry the worms in their system despite the presence of symptoms and signs.

There are some steps by people can manage this situation of swelling:

  • moisturize the affected part regularly

  • keep your wounds clean to prevent secondary infections

  • exercise regularly for your lymphatic system to work properly

  • gently wash or clean the swollen or infected part of the skin every day.

  • Lift the affected part for improving the flow of fluid and lymph, as instructed by the doctor

Surgery is recommended in very rare cases for the removal of the damaged lymphatic tissue and to relieve the pain and pressure in certain areas such as the scrotum.

Prevention of Elephantiasis

The best to prevent lymphatic filariasis is to avoid and protect yourself from mosquito bites. People need to follow these steps to prevent elephantiasis are:

  • Try to sleep under a mosquito net every day
  • spray insect repellent in the evening to prevent the mosquitos to come into your house
  • Use insect repellent lotion for children when they go outside in the evening to play
  • Stop mosquito breeding around your house


There is no vaccine for elephantiasis people with elephantiasis symptoms including swelling, thickening skin, and pain should immediately see a doctor for a medical check. Elephantiasis can be managed through medications, emotional support, and lifestyle changes. So, choose a better healthcare service provider for better medication facilities any time anywhere and buy your medicines online from 3MEDS.