To this disease all classes are liable, though it is much less common than in former years. It is found frequently among the poor, whose condition in life does not give them the means to guard at all points against it; but it is most common among such as neglect personal cleanliness.
Symptoms. An eruption of distinct, cone like, watery pimples, which are transparent at the summits, and are accompanied by an excessive itching, which is made worse by high seasoned food, by drinking liquor, and by the heat of the bed. When these pimples are scratched and torn, a sticky, watery fluid is poured out, which forms small scabs; and, in time, if the disease is not cured, these scabs being torn off, extensive sores are made.
Cause. It will excite the wonder of many readers to state that animals of so small a size as scarcely to be seen with the naked eye exist in the skin of man. Yet such is the fact; and it is the presence of these minute creatures, or the effect of their presence, which constitutes the disease called itch. The little creature (acarus scabiei, by name), a species of mite, is one seventy seventh part of an inch in length; and when closely inspected under the microscope, is really a beautiful, I may say an elegant, animal. Here are a front, a side, and a back view of him, well done by the artist.
His Method of Attack. When placed upon the skin, the little fellow, like the squirrel and other ground animals, sets himself to make a hole through the scarf skin with his head and fore feet. Into this he pushes his whole body. He then begins to burrow himself ill the derma or true skin making a channel many times his own length, at the end excavating a chamber where he sleeps, and whence he goes out to do his day's work at mining, or boring for food. When tired of this sleeping apartment, he digs onward and scoops out another.
This traveling, and boring, and turning about in an organ as sensitive as the true skin, must, of course, occasion a tickling and itching; and from this circumstance the disease took its name of ite7t. But this itching is not painful. James the First is said to have remarked that the itch was fitted only for kings so exquisite is the enjoyment of scratching. Probably it is a royal luxury. Be that as it may, most persons would consent to have it all done by royal fingers. They have been used for meaner purposes.
Treatment. Whatever will kill the little animal described above, will cure the itch. Various agents have been employed for this purpose, but none have been found equal to sulphur. The compound sulphur ointment is a sovereign remedy for the disease. Four ounces of this, should be well rubbed into the skin, before the fire, morning and evening, for three or four days. This will put an end to the whole colony of these sovereign squatters upon forbidden soil.
Two ounces of sulphuret of potash, and the same amount of soft-soap, dissolved in a pint of water, and applied well to the skin, is used in many cases with good effect.
Caustic potash, one part to twelve parts of water, applied in a similar way, is said to be a pretty sure remedy.
A solution of the chloride of lime, used as a wash, will often effect a cure.
The ointment of the American heuebore sometimes does well.
Before applying any of these preparations, let ' the skin be washed with warm water and soap, and well dried. Be sure the parasite is killed before ceasing treatment. Best to continue few clays longer than what is apparently needed.
Any statements made on this site have not been evaluated by the FDA
and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or condition.
Always consult your professional health care provider.
copyright 2005, J. Crow Company, New Ipswich NH 03071