This section is from the book "Smith's Family Physician", by William Henry Smith. See also: Natural Physician's Healing Therapies: Proven Remedies that Medical Doctors Don't Know.
This, in its simple form, is a complaint more unsightly and annoying than serious. It mostly affects young persons between the ages of 15 and 30 or 35. It is common to both sexes, but is usually most severe in young men. In the mild form there is simply an eruption of small pimples, which rise gradually, with but little inflammation; some of them, after a few days, will subside, while Others run on to suppuration, and sometimes successive crops of pimples will continue to arise for two or three weeks, after which they will fade away altogether. In other cases the eruption will return from time to time, at intervals of a few weeks, and, in rare cases, it will return occasionally during life.
The pimples usually appear on the face, particularly on the forehead, temples and chin, and sometimes also on the neck, shoulders, and upper part of the breast, but never descend to the lower part at' the body, or the lower limbs. The health is not usually affected, and the complaint is generally looked upon as simply local; but it is most probably an effort of nature to get rid of something obnoxious to the system.
Attention should be paid to the general state of the health, and, if the skin is pale or sallow, as is frequently the case, the Tonic Mixture, No. 11, may be taken, or the following:-
Cascarilla Bark, bruised..........Half an Ounce.
Boiling Water.......................One Pint. - Let it stand till cold, then strain. Take two tablespoonfuls three times a day. Five grains of Milk of Sulphur, and five grains of Magnesia may also be taken every morning before breakfast, for two or three weeks. Attention should also be paid to the diet, which should consist of light and digestible food.
The body should be warmly clothed, and the feet and legs put in hot water once or twice a week.
In another, and more aggravated form of the disorder, the tubercles are larger, harder, and more lasting than in the first variety; they are raised, and of a bright rosy hue, but many of them remain for a length of time without suppurating. Others, however, will continue forming for several weeks, and suppurate at last. They are frequently very numerous; sometimes two or three run together, forming a large irregular tubercle, which gradually becomes purple, or even livid, in colour. When the tubercles suppurate, crusts are formed, which, after a time, fall off, leaving small scars, surrounded by hard tumours of the same dark red colour.
The tubercles, even when they do not suppurate, are always tender to the touch, so that washing the face, shaving, or even the friction of the clothes, produce pain. In its most severe form, the disease nearly covers the face, frequently extending to the breast, shoulders, and top of the back.
The general health does not always suffer, even in this aggravated form of the disease. Many persons, however, thus affected, are liable to disorders of the stomach and bowels, to piles, and some even become consumptive. Its first appearance is frequently the result of some irregularity in diet, or of a sudden exposure to cold when overheated.
Particular attention should be paid to the general health; the diet should be light and nourishing, consisting of boiled mutton, with rice, sago, or bread puddings, and vegetables in moderation. Good beer may be taken occasionally, but spirituous liquors are best avoided. The medicines recommended in the previous variety of the disease may be taken, and the following lotion may be applied three or four times a day;-
Take of Bitter Almonds (blanched) two ounces. Bruise them in a mortar, with two drams of Carbonate of Potash, and gradually add one pint of water. Strain, and bottle for use.
If, after using this wash for sometime, it does not appear sufficiently strong, the Potash may be omitted, and ten grains of Corrosive Sublimate, dissolved in two drams of Alcohol, may be added.
There is still another, and even worse, form of blotched face than the preceding. "In addition to an eruption of small suppurating tubercles, there is also a shining redness, and an irregular granulated appearance of the skin in that part of the face which is affected. The redness commonly appears first on the nose, and afterwards spreads on both sides to the cheeks. At the commencement it is usually paler in the morning, and readily increased to a deep and intense red after dinner, or at any time, if a glass of wine or spirits be taken, or the patient be heated by sitting near the fire, or by active exertion." After continuing in this state for some time, the skin becomes gradually thickened, and its surface uneven or granulated, and variegated by a network of enlarged cutaneous veins, with smaller red lines stretching across the cheeks, and sometimes by a mixture of small suppurating tubercles, which arise, from time to time, on different parts of the face.
This variety of Acne does not often occur in early life, except where there is a great hereditary predisposition to it; it does not usually appear before the age of 35 or 40, but it may be produced in any person by the constant immoderate use of wine and spirituous liquors. In such cases, the greater part of the face, even the forehead and cheeks, are often affected, but the nose especially becomes swelled, and of a fiery red colour, and in advanced life, it sometimes enlarges to an enormous size. This description of Acne is often accompanied with diseased liver. In young persons, however, who are hereditarily predisposed to this complaint, irregular acrid patches frequently appear in the face; these are often smooth, and free from tubercles. If great temperance, both in food and drink, be not observed, these patches may be gradually extended, until the whole face assumes an unnatural redness.
This species of Acne, although unpleasant to look upon, is not attended with danger, which is consolatory, for, whether arising from habitual intemperance, or a strong hereditary predisposition, it is almost incurable. Particular attention should be paid to the diet, which should be light and nourishing, but not stimulating. The mixture of Cascarilla and Soda, mentioned above, may be taken twice a day, and one of the "Cathartic Pills, No. 4,"may be taken every night at bedtime.
The "Arsenical Solution" commonly called "Fowler's Solution," has sometimes been found beneficial. It may be taken in doses of 6 or 8 drops in a little water, twice a day, gradually increasing the dose to 15 drops.