This section is from the book "Materia Medica And Therapeutics Inorganic Substances", by Charles D. F. Phillips. Also available from Amazon: Materia medica and therapeutics.
In early stages even of acute tonsillitis, insufflation of very finely-powdered alum, or warm, weak alum gargles will often assist in cutting short the attack, but if this be fully developed before treatment is commenced, alum would be more likely to irritate than to relieve: its use is better reserved for chronic congested conditions, with or without spots of ulceration, when the fine powder should be gently blown over the affected part through a quill or suitable tube.
In Purulent Ophthalmia, as occurring especially in children, an alum lotion containing 4 to 6 gr. to the ounce is very useful when properly applied: it should be used very frequently, every half-hour or hour, in a gentle stream, so as to thoroughly cleanse the lids, and in addition drops of a weak solution of nitrate of silver may be required once daily: this method is the most relied upon at the London Ophthalmic Hospital (Medical Times, ii., 1873).
In Gonorrhoeal Ophthalmia, and in the severe ophthalmiae of Egypt and India, similar frequent use of alum lotions is also serviceable. My colleague, Mr. Macnamara, has seen cases cured in the latter country by applying round the orbit a mixture of burnt alum with lemon-juice.
In Catarrhal Conjunctivitis and Chemosis, a convenient and useful application is the alum curd, made with boiling milk, or the alum "poultice," prepared by rubbing a little of the powder with white of egg till a coagulum is formed; this is placed between two layers of thin cambric and applied over the closed lids.
In the early stage of this inflammation - it must be at least before suppuration has set in - a strong solution (30 to 60 gr. to 1 oz.) applied once in twenty-four hours will sometimes abort further progress. Judgment is required to determine the suitability of cases for this treatment, for if the inflammation be advanced and active, irritant applications tend to increase it. In sloughing ulceration about the fauces, strong nitrate solutions are sometimes serviceable, and are better than the solid caustic; but more active disinfectants, such as iodine or carbolic acid, are still better.
In ordinary tonsillitis, and even in suppuration about the fauces, I have seen much advantage from small doses of hydrarg. c. creta. In early stages of quinsy, in ulcerated sore throat, and even in the "putrid" form (cynanche maligna), 1/2 gr. given every two to four hours has induced rapid improvement. It does not exclude the use of aconite or belladonna if indicated by high temperature or much pain. In parotitis ("mumps"), also in glossitis, "cancrum oris," and cracks and ulcerations about the mouth and lips, the same treatment is very effective. For relaxed congested conditions of the faucial membrane the value of dilute solution of mercurial nitrate has been already indicated.