Good Health and Bad Medicine:
Care Of The Skin And Its Disorders - Part 1
Care Of The Skin And Its Disorders - Part 2
Care Of The Skin And Its Disorders - Part 3
Care Of The Skin And Its Disorders - Part 4
Care Of The Skin And Its Disorders - Part 5
Care Of The Skin And Its Disorders - Part 6
Care Of The Skin And Its Disorders - Part 7
Care Of The Skin And Its Disorders - Part 8
Care Of The Skin And Its Disorders - Part 9
Read More Articles About: Good Health and Bad Medicine
Care Of The Skin And Its Disorders - Part 8
( Originally Published 1940 )
Pimples and Acne
Many skin and internal diseases manifest themselves in the form of pimples and blotches resembling those of ordinary acne. It often requires all the skill and knowledge of a physician to recognize and choose the proper treatment for these different conditions. However, ordinary acne and its pimples are the most common skin disorder of adolescence and early adulthood. Who has not known the unhappy, self-conscious person troubled by unsightly blemishes of the face, forehead and back? He has usually run the gamut of every kind of pimple eradicator and blood-purifier before despairingly turning to the skin specialist for relief. Comedone extractors, salves, ointments, lotions, soaps, yeast, blood tonics, diet fads, have all been tried and usually found wanting in bringing about a cure.
This most common skin disease, characterized by the presence of pimples, is known medically as acne. It is a skin disorder occurring chiefly in adolescence and early adult life. The exact cause is not known, consequently there is no specific cure for the disorder. Much of the trouble is apparently due to excessive or disordered activity of very small secreting glands, imbedded in the deeper parts of the skin. These glands secrete an oil and fatty substances which are carried to the surface of the skin by tiny ducts. In acne, these ducts become plugged by dried secretions, causing the well-known comedones, or blackheads. The aim in the modern treatment of acne is either to diminish activity of these sebaceous glands or to remove the plugs from the openings of the ducts in the skin. The only effective way of doing the first is by proper and judicious use of local superficial X-rays. This can be done adequately and without danger only by a skin specialist. Severe cases are usually relieved by this method.
Milder cases may sometimes be benefited by achieving the second aim in the treatment of acneóremoval of plugs or blackheads. It is obvious that the use of a cream that blocks the ducts will aggravate rather than relieve the condition.
Consequently cold creams, special "skin and tissue foods" and vanishing creams should be avoided. Claims of special penetrating power by various face creams are false. Softening and removal of the obstructions in the plugged ducts is the basis of the treatment of mild cases, and this may be accomplished in many ways.
Steaming hot wet towels kept on for 15 to 30 minutes twice daily will soften the comedones or blackheads, and also help clear up the pus pimples. Boric acid solution is mildly antiseptic, and this may be used hot instead of plain water. The liberal use of a mild soap is also helpful. Washing the face with a rough Turkish cloth and soap will help keep the pores clean. A simple lotion such as Lotio Alba may be applied every night and washed off in the morning with hot water, soap and Turkish cloth.
If dandruff or an oily scalp is present, it must also be treated. Shampooing about twice a week and the application of a dandruff lotion (see page 284) will usually suffice.
There is no proven relation between diet and acne. Sweets and greasy foods do not cause acne. In some cases certain foods do appear to cause trouble; most commonly, chocolate and nuts. Sea food might also be avoided, because of its high iodine content. Dr. Marion B. Sulzberger and his collaborators were the first to demonstrate the now generally accepted fact that iodine in food or salt tends to aggravate certain cases of ordinary acne. Excepting where there is a need for iodized salt to prevent goiter, as in the Great Lakes region, table salt should not contain added iodine.
Pimple pills and "blood purifiers" may be harmful be-cause they usually contain potassium iodide. Sarsaparilla is used to mask the unpleasant tasting iodide. Both sarsaparilla and iodide are notorious for their property of aggravating acne.
Fleischmann's Yeast will not cure acne. According to Dr. H. H. Hazen, a well-known American skin specialist, "at least half of the patients suffering from acne have previously tried yeast without any benefit to themselves. But that the administration of yeast may actually induce the appearance of acne vulgaris seems to have escaped attention." Recently the Federal Trade Commission forced the Standard Brands Inc., manufacturers of Fleischmann's Yeast, to stop advertising that its yeast will cure or prevent constipation, bad breath, boils, acne, pimples or manifestations of irregular digestion.
Because self-treatment frequently causes scarring and infections of the skin, it is desirable that the condition be treated as soon as possible by a dermatologist so that disfigurement will not occur. The most effective treatment is X-ray.