CONSTITUTIONAL DISEASES OF THE SKIN
ECZEMA is a superficial, inflammatory, non-contagious skin disease. It is the most frequent and important of all skin affections. It is most common amongst children, 30 per cent. of all cases concern children. Generally speaking, eczema is more frequent in men than it is among women.
Eczema usually develops gradually in a typical way. The different forms of development are sometimes found in one and the same patient, combined as vesicles, pustules, crusts, etc.
The typical course of an eczema is as follows. It begins with the symptoms of an acute inflammatory redness of the skin, accompanied often by the intolerable itching and burning, especially in the folds of the skin. Some cases are accompanied by high temperature, especially when the eczema is located in the face. OEdema is very often present. These cases resemble erysipelas and the different diagnosis might be difficult in some cases. The right treatment usually cures the disease right away. But where treatment is unsuccessful the chronic form develops; characterized by thickening of the skin, infiltration and the formation of scabs or of a moist surface. This period may last long.
The second period of eczema is characterized by small red papules either in small patches or diffused over the cheeks or hands, or any other part of the body, accompanied by intense itching and burning. Nothing can restrain the patient from scratching the affected parts, which become a mass of blood, pus and scabs.
The third period of eczema is characterized by the formation of vesicles, containing a yellowish liquid. The vesicles burst either spontaneously or by scratching, forming a raw moist surface, from which a colourless discharge oozes, which, when it dries, forms yellowish crusts. These crusts are only slightly attached to the skin. Moistness is the characteristic symptom of this period.
When the liquid discharge becomes infected, as if often does, the so-called pustular eczema develops, characterized by large, thick, yellowish scabs and crusts, very easily loosening and forming again, thus making the disease chronic. In chronic cases the most different changes occur, such as warty developments, cracks and ulcers of the skin. Any part of the body is liable to become affected. The face is most frequently affected in children, the hands, abdomen and extremities in adults. So is the region of the genital organs, especially the scrotum.
What is the cause of eczema?
We must differentiate between local and constitutional causes. Regarding the constitutional causes I refer to my statements in the first chapter. I repeat that accumulation of toxic slags is the cause of nearly all skin troubles. A healthy body, which means freedom from poisonous slags, has a healthy skin and never gets an eczema or any other skin trouble.
On the other hand patients born with a psoric or scrofulous inheritance have usually a very weak and delicate skin. The slightest internal or external irritation in such cases may result in the development of a chronic skin disease like eczema or dermatitis.
As to external causes, the application of irritating or corroding medicaments, exposure to intensive sunrays or hot fires, burning or freezing friction by too tight clothes, etc., may cause an attack.
Treatment. I will not deal with the treatment of cases due to external causes, because these cases are better termed dermatitis. That means, eczema is a condition due to disturbance of the chemical or metabolic balance of the body.
The rational treatment of eczema must be dietetic and homoeopathic, whilst the local treatment should be restricted to some alleviating measures.
I. The dietetic treatment must be adapted to the constitution of the patient. That means, the diet for a weakened, emaciated patient must be quite different from that given to a robust and vigorous patient. Meat is forbidden for all patients. Generally speaking, a lacto-vegetarian diet with an abundance of fresh fruits and salads, is the ideal diet for anaemic, psoric patients. Uncooked food according to Bircher Benner is the diet for plethoric and vigorous patients.
When treating chronic cases I usually start the dietetic treatment with fruit-fasting days must be interposed between days of real vegetarian diet. The following scheme will be instructive:
Sunday: Fruit-fasting day.
(a) Breakfast: 1 glass of fruit juice, 4 ozs. various fresh fruits and nuts.
(b) Lunch: 1-2 glasses of fruit juice, 6 ozs. fresh fruits and nuts.
(c) Supper: 1 glass of fruit juice, 3 ozs. fresh fruits.
If the patient suffers from thirst, more fruit juice is allowed.
The patient must keep in bed or at least on the couch.
Monday and Tuesday: Any quantity of cooked or raw vegetable, lettuce salads, potatoes, milk, wholemeal bread, butter.
Wednesday: Fruit-fasting day like on Sunday.
Thursday.-Full vegetarian diet and 1 egg.
Saturday: Full lacto-vegetarian diet and 1 egg.
During the whole week the patient is allowed to drink milk according to his own desire.
Regarding Dr. Guelpa’s fast cure. I modify the scheme as follows: I start with one fast day. That means the patient takes on an empty stomach early in the morning 2 table spoonfuls of Glauber Salt in a tumblerful of lukewarm water mixed with fruit juice. No solid food whatsoever is allowed during the whole day. The patient may drink as much mineral water as he likes.
On the second day lettuce salads, vegetable soups and fresh fruits are given in unrestricted quantity.
On the third day full lacto-vegetarian diet, especially uncooked food are given.
On the fourth and fifth days, fast cure with Glauber Salt.
On the sixth, seventh and eighth days full vegetarian diet with small quantities of wholemeal bread and butter.
On the ninth and tenth days again, fast cure with Glauber Salt.
Then a whole week’s real vegetarian diet.
The results of such a cure are most striking. But of course such a cure must be carefully supervised. The Guelpa cure detoxicates the whole organism, cleanse the bowels and stimulates all vital functions.
The dietetic treatment must be most carefully individualized according to the patient’s constitution.
As to the homoeopathic treatment, I use Antimonium crudum, Arnica, Belladonna, Calcarea carbonica, Graphites, Mercurius vivus, Mercurius praecipitatus ruber, Petroleum, Psorinum, Sulphur and Tartaricum emeticus, according to the indications.
Dermatitis means an acute inflammation of the skin, due to any external irritation, whilst eczema is an inflammatory process due to internal i.e., constitutional causes.
We differentiate between the following varieties of dermatitis: (a) The traumatic dermatitis. It is due to injuries such as bruises, contusions, blows. The treatment of such cases consists of cleansing the affected skin and protecting it with sterile gauze soaked with Calendula or Arnica.
(b) The caloric dermatitis. It is a condition, due either to cold or to heat. Heat provokes three different forms of pathological conditions: 1. Burning, redness and swelling of the skin.
2. Vesicles and blisters.
3. Destruction of the skin, resulting in ulcers and scabs.
These local affections can be associated with serious general symptoms: diarrhoea, nervous disorders, delirium, kidney affections, sometimes ending fatally.
If we remember that the skin has to play an important part in keeping the body healthy, we will understand that the destruction of a large part of the skin either by heat or by cold must be a very serious injury.
The changes of the skin due to cold are as follows: 1. White patches, loss of sensation, slight itching.
2. Vesicles and blisters, sometimes containing blood.
3. Destruction of the skin, resulting in ulcers.
Treatment. Apis, Arnica and Cantharis are our homoeopathic drugs for both conditions.
The local treatment of burns of the first degree are compresses soaked with warm diluted spirit or with diluted Arnica tincture. The serious cases of ulcerations must be carefully treated with ointments of Arnica, Calendula,
Hamamelis, or with sterile compresses soaked with tinctures of these drugs. Chilblains must be treated with snow or cold compresses. Ulcers due to cold must be treated in the same way as ulcer due to burns.
Drugs like Agaricus muscarius, Carbo vegetabilis, Crot. horridus, Cantharis, Hepar sulphuris, Sulphur, Lachesis, Lycopodium, Petroleum, Secale cornutum must be considered in serious cases on their indications.
(c) Toxic dermatitis. That means an inflammation of the skin due to poisonous plants or minerals. Several different pathological conditions can occur, such as erythemata, papules, vesicles, pustules, accompanied by burning, itching and oedema. If the face is affected, the condition often resembles a real erysipelas. Many plants cause such a dermatitis, especially in people suffering from an allergic disposition. I mention poison ivy and Rhus toxicodendron.
Another form of toxic dermatitis is met amongst certain professions. Many surgeons suffer from dermatitis of their hands due to mercury or carbolic acid. Washer-women, dyers or miners suffer from similar affections. The treatment must aim at excluding anything that causes the toxic condition.
Useful drugs are: Apis, Arnica, Hepar sulphuris, Rhus toxicodendron and Sulphur.
(d) Medicinal dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin due to taking certain medicines, such as Arsenic, Antipyrin, Belladonna, Bromides, Iodines, Silver nitrate, Quinine. The drug in question must be stopped and the antidote given.
(e) X-ray dermatitis is due to too long or too frequent exposure to X-rays. This kind of dermatitis is characterized by pigmentation and ulcers. The treatment is very difficult and tiresome. We can try to antidote it by giving X-ray in high potencies internally. Calendula, Arnica or Hamamelis in the shape of oil, glycerine or diluted spirit must be used for the local treatment of the ulcers.
Dermatitis seborrhica. This condition is characterized by patches and red papules with thin, fatty, slightly adherent scabs. It is located mainly on the head, beginning at the forehead. It expands from here to the eyebrows and the chin. In some cases the region of the breast-bone, the armpit, the shoulder-blade and the abdomen are involved too. The scabs are moist, oily and loosen easily. The disease is due to an increased activity of the sebaceous glands. The question whether a micrococcus is responsible for it or not, it is not settled yet. The treatment is very difficult, as the disease often unresponsive to any treatment.
Washing of the affected parts with soap aggravates the condition. It is better to clean the diseased parts with warm bran-water.
Generally speaking the treatment must avoid everything which would irritate the sebaceous glands, and the organism present. Great care must be taken to keep the digestive system in good order. We must always keep in mind that putrefaction in the bowels is responsible for the majority of the diseases of the skin.
The most frequently indicated homoeopathic drugs are : Natrum muriaticum, Thuja, Calcarea carbonica, Graphites Kalium bromatum and Sulphur.
Urticaria is a constitutional inflammation of the skin. It is quickly transient, characterized by bright-reddish elevations, sometimes surrounded by a whitish areola. These elevations are either round or oval or irregular. There is always violent itching. The eruptions are either on some circumscribed spots of the body or they are dissipated over the whole body. Vesicles or oedematous circumscribed swelling develops. Serious inflammations of the skin, resulting in permanent changes like thickening, changing colour and scars, may develop through scratching, due to the violent itching. The itching is usually worse in the evening, bed-warmth aggravates it still more. All patients suffering from urticaria show the following characteristic symptoms. When we touch their skin with a hard object, say a pencil, thermometer or penholder, a reddish vascular reaction occurs. Thus we can write on their skin. This symptom is called dermographism.
Urticaria can be either acute or chronic. It is caused by several different factors. Many cases are due to digestive disorders or to eating of special dishes such as oysters, crabs, shell-fish, cheese, pineapple, strawberries, venisons or medicines such as turpentine, antipyrin, copaiva, etc. Urticaria amongst children is often due to intestinal worms.
Other cases of urticaria are symptoms of diseases of the womb, or they are due to gout, rheumatism or nervous disorders.
In all cases the hypersensibility of the circulatory system to external or internal irritation is responsible for the development of urticaria.
The treatment must be chosen according to the special causes of each case, and fortunately is usually successful at once.
The general dietetic and hygienic treatment is the most decisive factor. I refer to my statements in Chapter I.
We alleviate the itching pains by a soft acid cooling ointment or by applying a spirit with 1 per cent salicylic acid, or 5 per cent boric acid.
The most frequently indicated homoeopathic drugs are: Apis, Arsenicum album, Calcarea sulphurica, Rhus toxicodendron, Urtica urens and Pulsatilla.
PRURIGO Prurigo is a chronic inflammation of the skin, characterized by hard nodules. These nodules have the colour of the skin or they are slight pink. The nodules are located on the extensor side of the extremities and on the face. They itch most violently, inducing the patient to scratch himself. The scratching brings about an eczema, discolouring the skin, or haemorrhages leaving scars, accompanied by swelling of the lymphatic glands.
Prurigo usually starts during childhood, often after weaning and may last for the whole life.
Prurigo is a constitutional disease, either due to digestive intoxication or to endocrine disorders. It may be localized, or it may be spread over the whole body. It is a very worrying disease. It is sometimes coupled with other constitutional diseases, as asthma, migraine, diabetes or diseases of the digestive organs. It may also occur during pregnancy or in childbed.
The external treatment is of no use whatsoever. The dietetic and hygienic treatment is of the greatest importance. In some cases treatment with hormones is successful. In most cases we can rely on our homoeopathic drugs: Psorinum, Tuberculinum, Lycopodium, Silica, Sulphur, Agaricus, Kreosotum, Arsenicum iodatum, and Calcarea iodatum as indicated.
SHINGLES (HERPES ZOSTER)
The term shingles means an acute rash, characterized by vesicles on a red base and spread along the course of one or more of the cutaneous nerves. The disease usually affects only one side of the body. The rash is always accompanied by burning pains. The liquid in the vesicles, being clear for the first few days, slowly becomes opaque or purulent and dries up into yellowish-brown crusts.
In rare cases the vesicles become haemorrhagic, burst and lead to ulcers, healing only with scars.
The lymphatic glands are swollen, but do not show any tendency to suppuration.
The sharp excruciating neuralgic pains are often the first symptom of the disease, preceding the eruption for a few hours or days.
Shingles are most frequently located on the trunk between the ribs, but any other part of the body is liable to become involved, such as the face, forehead, the extremities and the abdomen.
Shingles is more common in adults than in children. It may be an infectious disease, for it sometimes occurs epidemically.
The disease usually takes a good turn, recovery can be expected in about two to four weeks, though the type affecting the facial nerve, eyelids, etc., may be both dangerous and troublesome to cure.
Treatment. The local treatment, can be restricted to simple protective measures. A very light covering is advisable.
The homoeopathic treatment is always successful, with Arsenicum album, Mezereum, Ranunculus bulbosus, Rhus toxicodendron and Sulphur, as indicated.
A few words on “cold sores” and herpes genitalis.
These two conditions are harmless. Cold sores often appear in the course of acute infectious diseases, or during menstruation or intestinal disorders. Itching and burning vesicles develop on different parts of the body, either on the skin or the mucous membranes. Within a few days the vesicles gradually dry up without bursting, but forming scabs, falling off after a few days.
If these vesicles develop on the external genital organs,
we speak of herpes progenitalis. This form of herpes has a relapsing tendency.
The differential diagnosis between herpes progenitalis and venereal disease is sometimes difficult.
Keeping the affected parts clean by washing them with soap and hot water, followed by dusting the spots with boric acid or dermatol powder is the best treatment.
Thuja, Croton tiglium or Carbo vegetabilis should be given for the internal treatment.
Psoriasis is a chronic, symmetrically occurring inflammation of the skin. It is characterized by papules and red plaques of different size, covered by silvery white adherent scales. The scales can easily be removed, but rapidly reappear. Minute bleeding points appear from forcible detachment of the scales. Dryness and itching are typical of Psoriasis.
The disease usually starts without any subjective symptoms with pin-head sized, reddish macules, which very soon become covered with a whitish scale. The spots gradually enlarge in diameter and the scales thicken, looking like bits of mortar thrown over the skin.
Psoriasis is generally located on the extensor surfaces of the legs, thighs, arms (especially round the elbow), scalp and back, and is rarer on the other parts of the trunk, hardly ever on the hands or soles.
Most cases of psoriasis occur between 25 and 50, but some cases begin in the earliest childhood; others again in senile age.
Psoriasis is a constitutional disease. I underline once more the relationship between the skin and the disarranged chemical balance of the body, spoken of in the first chapter. Nearly 70 per cent of all patients suffering from psoriasis, are constipated, they suffer from uric acid, gout, flatulence and liver-troubles.
These facts are decisive for the therapy.
The dietetic and hygienic treatment must be adapted to the constitution of the patient. Neither meat, nor condiments, nor spirits, nor sweets are allowed. Uncooked food or a lacto- vegetarian diet, especially celery-soup, should be given. Fresh fruits, rice, All-Bran, and walnut oil ought to be taken in large quantities.
A fast-cure, as explained when speaking about eczema, is the best and most reliable treatment.
I recall many serious cases which I was able to cure definitely by a systematic fast-cure and about 4-5 weeks.
Once a week a Turkish Bath is useful.
The homoeopathic treatment should support the dietetic and hygienic treatment. Constitutional drugs like Arsenicum album, Arsenicum iodatum, Calcarea carbonica, Hydrocotyle, Mercurius vivus, Mezereum, Natrum arsenicum, Phosphorus, Selenium, and Sulphur should be considered on their indications.