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( Originally Published Mid 1800s )
Dimples and eczema are the most repulsive of skin ailments. An eruption of any kind on the face is fatal to beauty.
Beauty usually first inspires love, but it is certain that cleanliness is a great factor in its preservation, and also, I am bound to say once more, no woman suffering from any one of the common forms of skin disease ever looks really clean.
For years it has been my habit to take a mental note of the skin diseases and blemishes of women and girls, and I have found that about only thirty in a hundred have really healthy, firm-looking skins, frequently with freckles, which are not unclean looking. The other seventy are pimply and unsightly from eczema, acne, or blackheads, or both.
At the risk of being tiresome and regarded by my readers as a persistent crank, I am bound to say that I do honestly believe uncleanliness is the chief cause of the unsightly faces in every assemblage, on the streets and at home, in town and country. Perhaps I should qualify this statement by saying that a mistaken idea of cleanliness prevails, and that a mere bath every day is not sufficient to entitle one to be called absolutely clean.
The skin is constantly undergoing the process of reproduction and decay, constantly secreting and endeavoring to throw off the decayed and useless matter. The skin of the face throws off its dead and useless scurf in tiny, dustlike particles. If these little specks of dead cuticle are removed daily by friction and a detergent, the channels are kept open and disease cannot, unless inherited or contagious, attack the face. Unfortunately, our American climate, with its sudden changes, too frequently checks the flow of perspiration which, unrestrained, would of itself carry off the dead matter. The consequence of the arrested effort to free the pores is congestion, and the result is a skin obstructed and positively loaded with adhering refuse matter, which is not only filthy, but actually poisonous in its effects when forced back into the blood.
I wish that I could personally see every woman who reads this book, and tell her by word of mouth of the quantities of filth which will accumulate in the pores of the skin of the face in a month's time; of the hideous cases of skin diseases which have been the despair of women and girls, and which have, in the course of a few months of proper cleansing and friction, yielded and given way to beautiful, satiny complexions, free from every blemish.
I have not much confidence in my own powers of eloquence, but it seems to me I could not fail, in relating the actual histories taken from my own daily observation, to impress my convictions, which are really the result of years of experience, that uncleanliness and a misunderstanding of what that word means, are the chief causes of our disfigured skins. Physical cleanliness must be so active that all corporeal impurities are thrown off through its agencies, cutaneous eruptions removed, and the entire surface of the body made as pure and smooth and bright as in infancy. No simple washing or bathing will do this, though such ablutions be performed six times a day. There is no purification of the skin and no cure for diseases resulting from obstructed pores, in my opinion, except through water and soap and friction.
I cite an actual instance which lately came under my observation.
A young Swedish girl, a housemaid in a hotel where I was living, was a repulsive object from a skin disease which appeared at first glance to be erysipelas. Her face was covered with groups of white-headed pimples in various stages of suppuration; her cheeks, nose, and chin were the color of a bright red cranberry; and the entire skin appeared stretched and shiny, as it will on a boil when gathering. The girl was an excellent servant, but several of the guests complained to the housekeeper that she was positively offensive to them, and she was about to be discharged when I spoke gently to her of her complexion,and she told me, with a burst of tears, how she had suffered for years from the hideous disease. She said she had tried many advertised remedies, but had given up in despair as they had made her face worse than ever. I prescribed a course of treatment for her, which included washing her face daily several times with soda and water and a very pure, healing soap. In a month she was able to use a camel's-hair face brush with soap. The treatment was practically the one I have already recommended, consisting of a healing cream used at night, and a cooling lotion during the day, and now eight months from the time I first undertook the cure of "Helma B," her face is as smooth and fair as a child's every pimple and spot has disappeared, and she herself in referring to it says: "For sure, now when I look in the glass I all the time smile, and for sure one year ago when I look in the glass I all the time cry."
Hehna's case was an unusually bad and disgusting one, but it was simply a neglected case of acne. A great many people do not discriminate between acne and eczema.
Eczema, in its simplest form, is a disease characterized by the eruption of a great number of small blister-headedlooking little pimples clustered together in patches, usually confined to one part of the body at a time. The pimples are accompanied by intense itching, and the result of scratching is to tear the thin, inflamed cuticle and to so irritate it that it suppurates and dries, leaving, after the crust has fallen, a little red mark upon the skin which is either dry, or, in some cases, wet, with a thin, milky-looking discharge which exudes from a tiny opening in the center of the pimple. This discharge often ceases in a few days, but is frequently followed by a fresh crop of pimples and again by another, so that the disease frequently runs on for months,-one patch healing as another reappears. Chronic or acute eczema is simple eczema in its most aggravated form, and if not checked results in hideous running sores and abscesses and excessive suffering. The causes of eczema are frequently very obscure. It is often inherited, and when this is the case, it is seldom possible to do more than palliate it or hold it in check. It frequently attacks the face, but usually first appears on the hands, the itching being so severe at times as to throw the patient almost into convulsions. Children suffer frequently from eczema of the face, and the subjects to this malady of all ages are apt to be attacked with it in the eyelids or the ears.
I knew a very beautiful and high-bred woman, now peacefully resting in the tomb of her Knickerbocker ancestors, who was obliged to dress her hair so that her ears were covered, because they were absolutely offensive from inherited eczema. I have often thought of her since I have learned to know that all forms of skin diseases, if not actually curable, may be greatly ameliorated, and of the agony she suffered in the knowledge that she was, to use her own words to me, " a living ulcer with a long line of intermarried dead ulcers back of her."
Hideous, indeed, is the legacy of scrofula and inexorable the laws of transmission, but even inherited skin diseases may be greatly palliated and the external signs kept in subjection.
Eczema sometimes appears in girls between the ages of fourteen and sixteen,-and is most annoying to sensitive children. It can, unless inherited, always be con trolled by attention to the general principles of health -cleanliness, exercise, proper diet, clothing, and ventilation. Eczema patients, old and young, should never use stimulants in any form; they should take daily baths and be most particular as to the regularity of all the important bodily functions. Occasionally doses of mild saline aperients such as cream of tartar, sulphate of soda, or the old-fashioned remedy of lac sulphur and cream of tartar mixed in equal quantities with enough molasses to form a creamy paste and taken three times a day for three days running, then omitted for three, then resumed for three, will be found of wonderful benefit. Let the patient drink freely of lemonade and avoid salt meats, pork in any form, and live upon a diet of fruits, red meats, and antiscorbutic vegetables. Many people are particularly susceptible to shellfish, and I have seen a case of eczema follow in several instances the eating of lobster. Strawberries will frequently produce this effect. Of course when there is an idiosyncrasy of this kind, the cause should be avoided. Vigorous exercise will often, by inducing excessive perspiration, act as a curative for eczema, particularly when combined with the application of a harmless external application.
Take great care in selecting the cream or emollient. I have seen most disastrous results from the reckless use of much-vaunted articles.
The following lotion is highly recommended by Doctor Cazenave:
Doctor Monin recommends this lotion for eczema of the face, and suggests about the same diet I have advised, with the aid of sulphur or soda baths. Just as soon as it is possible to bear the camel's-hair brush on the face, it should be used.
LOTION FOR ECZEMA, PIMPLES AND ERUPTIONS OF THE SKIN GENERALLY- (Cooley)
Corrosive sublimate (in coarse powder)....10 grains.
Agitate them together until solution be complete. The addition of five or six grains of hydrochlorate ammonia (pure sal ammoniac) or five or six drops (not more) of hydrochloric acid, increases the solvent action of the water, and renders the preparation less liable to suffer change, but is not otherwise advantageous. When absolutely pure distilled water is not used, this addition of acid should be made to prevent decomposition. To facilitate the process, some persons dissolve the sublimate in two or three fluid drachms of rectified spirit before adding the water; but this, though convenient, is also unnecessary.
FOR A BAD SKIN
Zinc ointment, 2 ounces;
Rub this into the skin every night. If the face is very much irritated, use this lotion during the day : Oxide of zinc, 2 drachms ; glycerine,4 drachms ; rose water, 2 ounces. Apply once or twice, or even three times daily, if required. It is very soothing.
BROCO FORMULA FOR ECZEMA
This preparation I have used with the greatest success in severe cases of facial eczema: Salicylic acid, from 50 centigrammes to 2 grammes, according to the severity of the case. Oxide of zinc and pulverized cornstarch, 34 grammes each. Lanolin 40 grammes. Vaseline 10 gammes.
Mix with care in the mortar, until a smooth paste is formed. Apply at night and wash off in the morning.
LOTION FOR ECZEMA OF THE EYELIDS
Red laurel water....20 grammes.
Apply to the eyelids daily ; make the application with a small camel's-hair brush.