the aim was to understand the conceptions of women about the female body with alterations caused by leprosy. in this qualitative and descriptive study, the concepts of the theory of representations were applied. participants were 43 women with bodily changes caused by leprosy, who regularly attended a referral unit specialized in health dermatology. individual semistructured interviews were held and thematic content analysis was used. the results show body conceptions related to health (past) and disease (present), showing the strength of esthetics and body functionality, influencing these women's participation and social integration. in conclusion, these women's body conceptions explain their self-care practices, and knowing them helps to ensure that nursing can better meet their care needs.