Fever blisters are a common ailment, never serious, but often annoying and distressing, since these eruptions usually appear about the face. The appearance as well as the behavior of cold sores is so well known that the sufferer does not, as a rule, consult a physician.
Usually, tiny blisters filled with a clear fluid appear, seated on a skin surface which is red and slightly swollen. In time, this fluid changes to a cloudy puslike material and, after a while, these blisters either dry or break and form brownish or yellowish crusts. Finally, the crusts drop off, leaving reddish stains which disappear. There is, as a rule, no scarring. These eruptions often appear in crops at intervals of twelve to twenty-four hours. They may gather in clusters and some may even join with others, forming rather large blisters. Fever blisters may return from time to time, some persons having two or more attacks during the year. Some itching and burning usually accompanies these eruptions.
The favorite location for this condition is the face, especially the corners of the mouth and the lips. When present on the tongue or on the inside of the cheeks, they are termed “canker sores.” Fever blisters may also be present on the genital organs of both the male and the female.
Causes.”Cold sores” may result from upset stomach and indigestion, from colds or from infectious diseases. They are seen in about one-third of all cases of pneumonia and malaria and in about one-half of all the cases of spotted fever. Contact with strong winds and strong sunlight is apt to cause repeated attacks of fever blisters in some, while certain women may experience an out-break with each menstrual period. The course of this eruption is rapid and it often disappears with-out treatment.
Suggestions for Treatment.When a person suffers from repeated attacks of fever blisters of the face, the use of a veil as a protection against the cold winds is advised.
The disappearance of the fever blisters can be hastened by the application of equal parts of sweet spirits of niter and spirits of camphor, or, by a solution of alum in the strength of one-half tea-spoonful of this remedy to four ounces of water.
Those who suffer from recurrent attacks are advised to consult a skin specialist.
Shingles (Herpes Zoster). Description.
In many of the skin conditions we have studied, emphasis was laid on the close relationship between the digestion and skin diseases. In shingles, we have an affection which illustrates the close relationship between the nerves of the body and the skin. True to our expectation, this eruption usually begins with a sort of neuralgia and the patient feels as if he is suffering from a cold. Soon the true nature of this malady is disclosed by the appearance of an eruption consisting of small blisters. These are seen only on one side of the body; they appear in crops and are situated on a reddened and somewhat swollen skin. In the course of about a week, these blisters either dry or break, forming yellowish brown crusts which finally drop off. While, as a rule, no permanent injury to the skin results, there are instances where considerable scar-ring occurs. These small blisters may contain pus or even blood, and in severe cases the skin may be-come gangrenous.
The pain of this affection may be slight or so severe as to interfere with sleep. It has been described as darting, burning, or drawing in character. Usually the suffering ceases with the healing of the eruptions but, especially in elderly people, this may continue for a long time afterwards. In children the pain is either mild or entirely absent.
The eruptions of shingles usually appear between the ribs, on the lower part of the back and on the face. In rare cases, the nerves supplying the eye may be involved, causing ulcers on the eye surface and even loss of the eye. This, however, is fortunately very rare. It is most unusual for a person to suffer from more than one attack of shingles. Most cases of this disease recover in from one to three weeks.
Causes.This skin condition is usually caused by exposure to wet and cold. Such injury to nerves as may result from blows, surgical operations, or tumors, may also produce this disease. The long-continued use of arsenic may cause shingles in some persons.
Suggestions for Treatment.The treatment of shingles requires the services of a skin specialist.
Burns and Scalds.Description.Burns,while frequent, are comparatively seldom serious.
They may prove fatal through the development of blood poisoning, lockjaw, erysipelas, and ulcers in the stomach. Indeed burns may directly cause death when one-third or more of the skin surface is destroyed, especially when an aged or a very young person is afflicted.
Burns vary in degree from a slight redness to actual destruction of the flesh. Scientists describe three degrees of burns. The first degree burn, the mildest form, is one in which there is redness, swelling, heat and pain. In the more severe form, the second degree, blisters of various sizes appear in addition to the above symptoms. In the most severe or third degree burns, there is actual destruction of the flesh.
Suggestions for Treatment.The mildest form of burn is benefited and relieved by applications of Carron oil, lead water, and laudanum, or a 5 per cent solution of bicarbonate of soda. For the more severe form of burns, the services of a physician are required.
Sunburn. Description. Sunburn in no wise differs from the mildest form of burn. It may appear only as redness, swelling, and heat with a certain amount of pain or with blisters.
Treatment.Treatment includes the avoidance o of soap and water upon the parts affected, but bathing with warm starch water proves soothing. Mild cases will respond to the same remedies suggested for burns, but more severe types require the services of a physician.
Persons who are very susceptible to sunburn can obtain protection by applying the following lotion previous to exposure.
Carbolic acid grains 15 Zinc oxide Powdered starch
Apply freely before exposure to the sun’s rays.
Frost Bites, Chilblains (Erythema perino). Description.Chilblains is a condition usually contracted by children and by old people who suffer from a feeble circulation. The heels, toes, ears, nose, and fingers are the parts affected. This condition usually proves troublesome during the winter. There is often considerable burning and itching.
Suggestions for Prevention.Attacks of chilblains may be avoided by wearing warm clothing and bathing in warm water. As those affected often suffer from weak circulation, tonics pre-scribed by a physician should be taken regularly, especially during the winter months. The parts affected may be helped by massage with a combination consisting of equal parts of turpentine and olive oil.
Dry Tetter (Psoriasis).Description.Dry tetter is a rather frequent and very stubborn skin condition. The eruptions are very typical, consisting of solid elevations, distinctly separated from the unaffected skin. These eruptions are covered by silvery-white scales, overlaid, like the shingles on a roof. There are a number of layers of these scales, for they represent almost the entire epidermis (the outermost part of the skin). When the scales are removed, a little bleeding is often noted, due to exposure of the deepest part of the epidermis and in some cases even of the true skin. This skin condition appears, with almost monotonous regularity, on the extensor (bending) surfaces of the elbows and knees, and on the scalp. On the scalp the elevations often tend to so run together that scaling is the only evidence present. There-fore, there is a close resemblance between dry tetter and simple dandruff.
Itching is, as a rule, absent, but during the active period of the eruption, in the obese, and in very nervous persons, this discomfort may be quite intense. Improvement often begins with the patches breaking in the center.
Cause..The cause of this disease is unknown, though some species of germ has long been suspected. It is possible to clear the skin of a person suffering from this disease but, in the light of our present knowledge, an absolute cure cannot be promised.
Warts (Verruca).Introduction.Most people still regard warts merely as blemishes and in spite of the many attempts on the part of the medical profession to educate the public to the dangers of these growths, such knowledge has not reached the masses. It is granted that, considering the great numbers of people having warts, but few suffer serious harm. But why not save those few who may neglect themselves? What is this great danger? It lies in the possibility of warts, of a certain type, developing into cancerous growths, unless removed early. Is this consideration not worth while?
Description.Warts have been classified into a number of groups and each will be discussed in turn. There is the ordinary wart so often seen on the hands. It is an elevation, about the size of a pea, round, yellow or brown in color, with a broad base and a smooth or rough surface. Usually, quite a number are present. When these warts are on the soles, they cause great pain when walking.
Then there is the flat wart, so named because its surface is rather flat and smooth. It varies in size from a pea to a finger nail, is but slightly raised above the skin level, and brownish or blackish in color. Flat warts are usually quite numerous and are most frequently seen on the upper part of the back and the backs of the hands of elderly people, and occasionally on the faces of children. At times these warts may, through inoculation, appear on the lip and on the tip of the tongue.
At this point, let us pause once more to dwell on the relationship between warts and skin cancers. Too much emphasis cannot be placed upon the dangers lurking in these flat warts, especially in the aged. For it is this variety that may become the seat of skin cancers and their early removal or destruction is of paramount importance.
There are individuals who may ridicule this ad. vice and who feel “just like the man who refuses to take swimming lessons because he thinks he will never run the risk of drowning.” However, when such a calamity does befall, what would that per-son not give for this knowledge and experience!
The same moral applies to warts. There are many who have these warts and never experience any trouble, but once these warts suddenly begin to grow large and their color becomes darker, indicating that the transformation into cancer has be-gun, what would that person not give to stop their progress! The removal of these warts at an early stage is harmless and the results almost certain, but once cancer has developed, while their destruction is still a simple operation, there is far less chance of a successful termination. Why, therefore, suffer the anxiety and take the risk?
Let us now return to the description of the remaining varieties of warts. There is a form of wart which appears chiefly on the face, eyelids, and neck and which resembles a thread. It is about one-eighth of an inch in length.
The warts which usually occur on the scalp consist of peculiar elevations which give off a number of finger-like projections from the base. They are annoying because they may be easily injured during combing, and are apt to bleed and increase in numbers.
Finally, there are the so-called “venereal warts” found about the mouth and the genitals of young persons. They consist of reddish or pinkish growths usually bathed in an offensive, puslike discharge. These warts grow rapidly and may reach the size of an egg.
Cause.It appears likely that all warts, with the exception of the flat variety, are caused by germs, and that they are contagious and can be transmitted from one area to another (auto-inoculable).
Suggestions for Treatment.The common warts, when on the hands, may be removed by burning with caustics, carefully applied, from time to time, until they disappear. Among the most efficient are nitric acid and caustic potash. This, how-ever, is rather a clumsy method and is apt to leave scars. Much better results can be obtained by seeking the services of a skin specialist. The common warts of the soles and all other varieties re-quire the advice of a dermatologist.
Corns (Clavus).Description.Corns appear on the upper surface of the toes and upon the soles of the feet. They are dense and horny, either single or numerous, and about the size of a pea or larger. When between the toes, their horny covering softens and the so-called soft corns are formed. Corns are painful upon pressure, and may be similarly influenced by weather conditions. The cause of corns is pressure or friction from ill-fitting shoes.
Suggestions for Treatment.The wearing of properly fitting footwear, is the most important means of prevention. Corns may be softened by using soap and soaking in hot water. The further treatment of corns requires the services of a foot specialist. Return of corns may be prevented by wearing a felt plaster with a central hole over the part previously affected, and soaking the foot once daily in hot water.
Freckles (Lentigo). Description.Freckles consist of an increased amount of pigment (coloring matter) deposited in tiny areas, here and there, in the skin. The spots are pinhead to pea in size, round, oval, or irregular, and of a yellowish, brownish, or blackish color. Freckles are mostly seen during youth and also, frequently, among small children. Blonds and red-haired persons are especially apt to become freckled. Ordinarily, freckles appear during the summer and fade, partially or completely, during the cold seasons. They occur chiefly on the face and backs of the hands and occasionally on the trunk. Freckling is some-times seen in those of advanced years, in whom it is one of the signs of an aging of the skin. Freckling results from nature’s effort to screen out the harmful (chemical) rays of the sun.
Suggestions for Treatment.Freckle spots may be removed or, at least, faded by treatment, but they are very apt to return. They can be rendered less conspicuous by rubbing with lemon juice until the skin scales. Washing the affected part with a strong alkaline soap and then sponging with a solution of hydrogen peroxide is also beneficial. The use of large-brimmed hats and closely woven red or black veils during the warm months may act as a preventative of freckles.
Liver Spots, Yellow Spots (Chloasma, Blotches).Description.The so-called liver spots consist of areas of discoloration of the skin, of yellowish, brownish, or blackish color. They may vary in size from that of a kernel of corn to that of a palm or larger, may be irregular or rounded, but may have fairly well-defined edges. This affection is usually seen on the face.
Causes.Liver spots may be caused by blistering the skin; they may be associated with pregnancy.
Suggestions for Treatment.The discoloration of liver spots can be improved by the same measures recommended for freckles. For any further advice, the reader is referred to a skin specialist.
Excessive Sweating (Hyperidrosis).Description.Excessive sweating of the entire body is usually caused by some internal disease. That form which is limited to certain regions, such as the soles, palms, armpits, nose, forehead, etc., is a fairly common condition. When the hands are so affected, they appear moist, clammy, and cold and when this condition is pronounced, not only are the hands constantly wet, but they actually drip drops of sweat. The annoyance of this affection is easily imagined. Gloves are very frequently ruined, and what is of more concern, this condition very often interferes with one’s occupation. Excessive sweating of the feet causes the top layer of the skin (the epidermis) to become moist, water-logged, and white, so that the feet feel tender when walking. Excessive sweating in the armpits is rather common and is greatly increased by mental excitement.
Suggestions for Treatment.The treatment of excessively sweaty hands requires the services of a skin specialist. When the feet are similarly affected, some measure of relief may be obtained by washing them frequently and powdering the inside of the hose with plenty of boric acid powder.