Sulphur is a drug of much general utility in veterinary practice, and is one of the few "specifics" referred to in our opening remarks.
The chief preparations used are sublimated sulphur, commonly called flowers of sulphur, precipitated sulphur, sulphur ointment, sulphurated potash, and numerous combinations with other metals as sulphides, sulphites, hyposulphites, and sulphates.
Sulphur, either as an ointment or as a lotion with oil as the vehicle, has been used for skin diseases from time immemorial, being known to the ancients as a specific for itch in man and mange in animals. The mange mite cannot live in its presence, or in that of sulphuretted hydrogen or sulphurous acid, both of which are developed when sulphur is brought into contact with the skin.
Sulphurous acid, as has already been explained (see page 485), is the product of sulphur burned in the air, and is a valuable disinfectant and parasiticide. Horses are sometimes made to inhale it in diseases of the throat and nostrils, and with apparent benefit.
Sulphur is given as a mild aperient or gentle laxative, and often combined with epsom salts. In small doses it is alterative and diaphoretic, and when given for some time it assists to impart the glossy appearance of the skin, for which alterative powders containing it are so much valued.
Sulphuretted hydrogen passed into water, and used quickly, has the same destructive influence upon lice as the flowers of sulphur, but convenience dictates the use of a solution of sulphuretted potash, a preparation which holds the gas in loose chemical union, but which gives it up freely to water. It is an unstable compound, however, and for this reason is not so often employed as it might be.