Circumcision is a barbarous and criminal procedure, whether done as a religious ceremonial or as a medical measure. It results in severe surgical shock to the delicate nervous system of the child and, where an anesthetic is employed, in depressant effects from this cause also. It not infrequently results in severe inflammaion and much suffering and in a few cases in death. The medical notions that circumcision, like the pruning of a tree, results in better development of the boy and that it also tends to prevent venereal disease are rank nonsense. Jews are not better developed than Irish or French, while the fact that there is as much venereal disease among them as among other tribes is proof that circumcision is a mighty poor substitute for good behavior.
In phimosis, if daily traction will not overcome it, a probe should be inserted and the part stretched. The foreskin should be drawn over the end of a syringe and warm water forced into the cavity between the glans and foreskin, to cleanse it. It necessary, a doctor may be called to dilate the foreskin with a dilator. It causes a little pain but is soon over. In cases where the foreskin is adhered to the glans, it should be peeled loose.
THE NAVEL: This is usually an object of much concern, except in the lower animals. It is the custom to wash it with antiseptics and put a "drying powder"--arisol, bismuth subgallate, etc.--on it. A shield is then placed over the parts and the usual "belly-band" tied around the child. All of this monkey-work is pernicious and needless.
Cleanliness is all the navel requires. Clean it with plain warm water and let it alone. If the navel is discharging and a strap is applied to it, so that the discharge is pent- up, Infection is almost sure to follow.
THE SKIN: Two things are needed by the skin of a baby--cleanliness and dryness. Anything else is pernicious. A baby's skin is tender and delicate and becomes irritated from slight causes. Soap, powders, oil, dampness, especially in the folds and creases of babies with the fat-bloat, soap-containing diapers, rough clothing, uncleanliness, drugs, etc., irritate the skin.
Wash the baby in warm water. Use no soap or other unnatural preparation. Keep powders and oils--olive oil, lanolin, etc.--off its skin. Oil only succeeds in occluding the pores of the skin. Massage creams are worse and should not be employed.
Powders often contain poisonous antiseptics; but are not to be used even where they do not. They are dirt, at best.
Rough towels, rough cloths, etc., should not be used on a baby's skin.
CHAFFING: This is due to dirt, a wet skin, sweat or water left in the folds of fat on fat babies, over clothing, tight clothing etc. The usual treatment disregards the causes. Bran baths, powders, medicated and otherwise, sea-salt baths, vinegar, starch and boric-acid powder, etc., are the foolish procedures of the "do something" schools.
If a child is washed in plain water, throughly dried after each bath, not allowed to acquire the fat-bloat and is not over clothed, its skin will not chafe. If it has been allowed to chafe there is nothing better for it than to expose the baby's body to the air.
THE SCALP: This should be washed every day with plain water.
"Cradle Cap" is a scaly condition of the scalp seen in some babies. Medical treatment consists of shampoos, olive oil soaks, applications of boric acid salve, and scraping the scalp with a fine comb.
All that is required is cleanliness and sun and air. Keep drug, and soaps and oils off baby's head.
SWADLING BANDS: As soon as baby is born it has to be propped up and girded with hoops and bands to prevent it from falling to pieces. Accordingly, a band is pinned snugly about its abdomen and it must wear the thing for several days--to prevent rupture--after birth. Pregnancy and parturition are also such unnatural conditions that nature is unable to meet such emergencies, so the mother must be tightly bound around the waist as soon as the baby is born to keep her from falling apart.
Injurious belly-bands about an infants abdomen, often pinned as tightly as a woman's corset, diapers pinned so smugly about the waist and drawn so tight between the legs as to produce discomfort and pain, make life very unpleasant for many infants. There is not the slightest reason why the abominable bands should be worn by either mother or child.
Medical works advocate the wearing of abdominal bands "as long as it is possible to buy them large enough (ten years), the reason for this being that it is important to protect the bowels from sudden changes in temperature or chilling even in older children."
Why not also in adults? Surely bands can be made that are largely enough for the biggest of us. The fact is that this band business belongs to the sick habit and the doctoring game and is injurious bunk. There is no reason for these bands. These sudden changes of temperature are quite natural and man can meet them as well as rabbits or deer.