How Common Articles May Poison Some Folk
( Originally Published 1936 )
The wild animal lives in a constant state of danger. Every mouthful of food it eats must be punctuated by a look around to see that none of its enemies are waiting to pounce on it. Every move it makes is fraught with danger of which, in most instances, it is unaware.
Man in a state of civilization often congratulates himself that he is better off. Maybe he is, but our recent record of kidnapings, murders, and gang warfares would not lead one to become too optimistic.
Many of our enemies, however, wear a perfect disguise. They look quite innocent and we return to them as to old friends, and they make trouble for us over and over again.
It may be the band in your hat, the pillow you sleep on, the powder you use on your face, the nerve tonic you take occasionally, the polish on your shoes, the soap you use, the morning paper the most commonplace and familiar things possible.
For instance, that hat band. A man aged 45 writes that he has a peculiar eruption on his forehead. His wife thinks it is the heat—it has been a warm winter for the heavy hats we wear, and he perspires easily. His partner thinks something is the matter with his blood and has advised him to have a blood test. He, himself, once thought it was due to his hat band but he has tried putting a piece of cloth under his hat band and that did not help much. He does admit this much—the only way to clear it up is to go without a hat for a month or more.
The chances are good that it is the hat band. Why hat bands cause an itchy eruption on the skin of some people and not on others is a mystery which we have not up to the present solved completely. All we can say is that certain people have a sensitiveness to the offending material. Excessive perspiration may produce a chemical in some hat band materials which is irritating to most skins.
Preventing contact with the hat band does not always cure up the dermatitis. Cloth protection alone is not necessarily enough as perspiration may be carried through the cloth to the hat band, dissolving the offending substance and bringing it again into contact with the skin.
Special hat bands may have to be worn by a very sensitive person. A test to see whether it is the hat band which is causing the trouble is to cut a small piece of the hat band out and paste it on the skin with a piece of adhesive plaster. If the skin is sensitive there will be an_ eruption where the hat band came into contact with the skin.
Treatment of the skin eruption—of hat band dermatitis—is by the use of X-rays and ultra-violet rays.