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 is an eruptive disease, not contagious; it consists of a collection of vesicles or pimples, extending sometimes half round and sometimes completely round the waist, like a belt, from whence its name, being derived from the Latin word cingula. In some cases the eruption appears across the shoulders, like a sword-belt. Young people are most frequently attacked, and females oftener than males; but middle aged, and even very old people, occasionally suffer from this complaint. It has been supposed to arise from exposure to cold, when in a state of perspiration, also from a too frequent use of salted food; it is not supposed to be trans-mittible from one person to another, but the same person may have it more than once.
The disease generally commences with slight feverishness, lan-gour, and loss of appetite, the patient, at the same time, complaining of heat in the side about to be affected, and pains shooting through the chest and region of the stomach, with a feeling of fulness therein. In some cases the symptoms are so slight as scarcely to attract attention, but in others they are very considerable and distressing. On the second or third day, several red patches may be observed on one side of the abdomen, breast, or shoulders, upon which are numerous elevated pimples clustered together, accompanied by a sensation of great heat, redness of the parts, and a very severe and distressing itching. The pimples speedily increase to the size of large pearls, and are filled with a limpid fluid. In some eases the pimples are close together, forming an oval or circular patch, surrounded by a red margin.
For two or three days, while the pimples that first appeared are enlarging, others continue to show themselves, but, after five or six days, it is usual for the eruption to cease extending or multiplying, and, in the meantime, the vesicles which had first appeared begin to lose their transparency, and assume more the character of pustules, and by degrees become of a blue or livid colour, ultimately being covered with thin brown scabs. The patches which have appeared later go through the same course, and in about two weeks time, nothing but the dry brown scabs remain. These, when they fall off, leave the parts beneath of a dark brown colour.
The fever sometimes subsides on the appearance of the eruption; but it more frequently happens that the feverishness continues through the whole course of the disease, and this probably from the incessant irritation occasioned by the painful and very distressing itching and smarting which are attendant on the eruptions. In many cases a deep-seated and intense pain is felt in the chest towards the close of the disease; but in others the degree of pain is much less.
In mild cases, the disease is not attended with danger; but, in very severe ones, it has been known to terminate fatally. In the former cases, it is apt to leave the patient debilitated; but in the latter, severe and extensive ulcerations are apt to ensue. If, by a use of improper applications, the eruption is driven inwardly, the patient is sometimes attacked by a fit of Asthma, with acute, lancinating pains in the parts previously occupied by the eruption, together with a distressing and incessant itching, which prevents his getting rest by night or day; he finds himself under the necessity of continually scratching; he loses all desire for food; is at length reduced to a state of extreme debility, and can only obtain case from the pain in the side, by constant pressure with his hand over the part.
After a lapse of several weeks, the severity of the symptoms subsides, and the patient is restored to a tolerable state of health; but he experiences, for many months perhaps, a great soreness and tenderness of the skin where the eruption had been, accompanied by some degree of itching, and occasionally sharp pains darting through the muscles beneath, with other distressing neuralgic symptoms.
The patient is to be kept moderately warm; and may take the Fever Mixture, No. 9, three or four times a day. If the bowels are at all confined, two or three of the Cathartic Pills, No. 4, may be taken at bedtime, or a dose of Epsom Salts and Senna in the morning; repeating the dose every second day. The patient may also take ten grains of Dover's Powder, or five grains of Extract of Henbane at bedtime.
Nothing must be applied to the part affected that would be likely to drive in the eruption. A little Hair Powder, or fine powdered Starch may be dusted over the pimples, and covered with cotton batting; or the parts may be dressed with Spermaceti Ointment, Turner's Cerate, or fresh lard.
After the fever has subsided, and the parts begin to scale off, the patient may take the following:-
Tincture of Cascarilla.........................One Ounce.
Tincture of Orange Peel....................Half an Ounce.
Bicarbonate of Soda..........................One Dram.
Water............................................Half an Ounce.
Take two teaspoonfuls three times a day. After taking this for two or three weeks, the patient may discontinue it; and may take the following:-
Citrate of Iron and Quinine...................One Dram.
Tincture of Orange Peel.......................Half an Ounce.
Simple Syrup....................................Half an Ounce.
A tablespoonful three times a day.
The patient should be warmly clad, and, after the fever subsides, warm bathing will be beneficial. Attention should be paid to the diet, which should be light and nourishing. Hard and indigestible food, pickles and vinegar, and salt meat should be avoided.