This section is from the book "The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine. Volume 2.", by J. H. Kellogg, M.D.. Also available from Amazon: The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine, Volume 2.
The same kind of treatment is not effective for all kinds of skin diseases. The fashionable custom of resorting to mineral springs for the cure of skin diseases, no matter what may be their nature, is most unphilosophical, and results in great injury, since, while a few cases may be benefited, a much larger number are rendered worse. The same is true of any other single method of treatment. No matter how successful a remedy may be in one case, in another it may be as signally unsuccessful. Diseases of a purely local character require a purely local treatment. Those in which the general system is chiefly at fault, may require only general treatment, or both general and local; for example, parasitic diseases are cured by local remedies alone. The same is time of such diseases as warts, corns, dandruff, ulcers, or cancer of the skin. Scrofulous eruptions, and affections of the skin due to morbid conditions of the blood or of the internal organs, require only general treatment. Local in flammations, hemorrhages, nervous affections, and diseases of the glands of the skin, require both general and local treatment, in some cases one and in other cases the other being most important.
Local remedies chiefly consist of cleansing, stimulating, or astringent lotions, unguents, or of applications capable of destroying vegetable or animal parasites. General measures consist of remedies calculated to improve the condition of the blood and the nervous system. Proper diet is of the first importance, especially in chronic cases. With reference to this class of diseases, Dr. Bulkley of New York, one of the best American authors on diseases of the skin, remarks that in order to accomplish a cure, "we cannot simply apply a wash or a salve, or take a few drops of this or that remedy." Thorough attention must be given to strict compliance with all hygienic rules. Pickles, salads, deserts, etc., rich sauces, pepper, mustard, and all stimulating condiments, fats, fried food, excessive quantities of meat, excessive use of sugar, and all articles of a stimulating and clogging nature, must be wholly avoided. Tea, coffee, tobacco, beer, ale, wine, cider, and all alcoholic beverages, narcotics and stimulants of all sorts must be scrupulously avoided. The diet must be very plain and simple. Excessive quantity is equally as bad as errors in quality. Thorough mastication of food is very important. A fruit and grain diet is much to be preferred to a mixed diet. Milk and eggs can be taken in moderation with a little flesh. The less meat the patient uses, the better. Errors of diet on the part of the mother, is one of the most frequent causes of skin diseases in infants. The children of mothers who are in the habit of drinking ale, porter, beer and wine, or taking large quantities of tea or coffee, are very likely to suffer with skin diseases.
Some diseases, particularly nettle-rash, or urticaria, are caused by particular articles of food, such as oysters, clams, lobsters, mushrooms, bananas, strawberries, pineapples, etc. In these cases, it is, of course, necessary to discover the obnoxious article and discontinue it. General baths, such as vapor baths, Turkish, or hot-air baths, and the warm full bath, are of immense advantage in the treatment of many forms of skin disease. The various ointments, lotions, cosmetics, etc., which are sold in drug stores are generally worthless and frequently worse than useless. We have met cases in which exceedingly harmful results had followed the use of these preparations.