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Category: Infectious Diseases
Erysipelas is an infectious disease, and it is usually caused
by a germ which we call "streptococcus pyogenes." The disease shows itself
by its local symptoms, pain, swelling, etc., and also by general or
constitutional symptoms such as fever, headache, etc., as hereafter given.
Causes. It is a disease that occurs at any time, and is sometimes
epidemic, that is, attacks many persons at a time, like La Grippe. It
occurs more often in the spring; it is contagious, and can be carried by a
third person or in bedding, etc.
Symptoms. The type that appears upon the face is the most common. The
incubation lasts from three to seven days and it usually comes suddenly
with a chill, followed by an active fever and with the local inflammation.
In some cases the local condition appears first. There is at first
redness, usually of the bridge of the nose and it rapidly spreads to the
cheeks, eyes, ears, etc. It is red, shiny hot, drawing, but with a
distinct margin at its edges, showing how much skin is inflamed. It may
take the form of vesicles. The eyelids may be so swollen as to close, the
face and scalp greatly swollen with watery swelling of the eyelids, lips,
eyes, ears, etc. The glands under the jaw may become enlarged. The general
or constitutional symptoms may be severe. The fever may rise to 104 to 106
and terminates suddenly. The parts that were first affected become pale
and more normal, as other parts are involved. It occurs also on other
parts of the body. A sting of an insect sometimes looks like it at first;
but it does not spread like erysipelas. It seems to me to be more
dangerous around the head.
MOTHERS' REMEDIES. 1. Erysipelas, Slippery Elm Bark for. "Slippery elm
used as a wash and taken as a drink." Slippery elm is a very good remedy
for this on account of its soothing effect to the affected parts. It is
very good to take internally, as it cleanses the system by acting on the
bowels and kidneys.
2. Erysipelas, Bean Poultices for. "White navy beans boiled soft and
applied as a poultice to the affected parts and renewed frequently is a
sure cure for erysipelas if taken in time." This is a very good and
effective poultice, but care should be taken not to use it too long, as
the parts will become too soft and might slough.
3. Erysipelas, Soda Wash for. "Put about a tablespoonful of baking soda
in one pint of water and bathe parts several times a day," This is an
extremely simple remedy for such a serious disease, but has been known to
do good in many cases. The baking soda is soothing.
4. Erysipelas, Easy Remedy for. "Keep parts well bathed with
witch-hazel." A good preparation should be bought. By applying this freely
to the affected parts it will be found to have a very soothing effect.
5. Erysipelas, Copperas Liniment for. "A few cents' worth of common
copperas. Make a solution and keep applying it. This kills the poison as
it comes on and relieves the pain. I knew of a very bad case to be cured
by this treatment."
6. Erysipelas, Cranberry Poultice for. "Take cranberries and stew them
and make a poultice of them." This is a remedy that cannot be beaten for
this disease. It gives relief in a very short time and saves the patient a
great deal of suffering. If the whisky is used to wet the poultice it is
much better, as it keeps the poultice moist longer. All that is necessary
is simply to put on more whiskey and it will not be necessary to change
the poultice so often.
PHYSICIANS' TREATMENT for Erysipelas. It is best to separate the patient
from the others in the family. Some people very easily take this disease.
I know one who cannot be in the room where such a patient is for even five
minutes without contracting it.
Local Treatment. 1. Wash the parts with a solution of boric acid,
one-half teaspoonful to eight teaspoonfuls of tepid water, put this on the
inflamed parts. Then apply a poultice of bruised cranberries. Wash the
face each time with the solution before applying the cranberry poultice
2. Paint thoroughly with tincture of iodine outside of the margin of the
disease where the skin shows no sign of the trouble. This is very
effective. If done freely it produces a slight inflammation. The stain
made by it remains for some time and that is the objection to it on the
face, but do not hesitate on that account if the other remedies do not
work well or are not at hand.
3. The following is a splendid local application. Cleanse thoroughly the
inflamed part with pure castile soap and water, and then wash this off
with one to one thousand corrosive sublimate solution. Dry the skin with a
soft towel and apply a thick coating of equal parts of Ichthyol and
vaselin, and over this place antiseptic gauze or sterilized absorbent
cotton. Keep this in place with adhesive straps. If the diseased surface
is small it may not be necessary to use the gauze, etc.
4. Tincture Chloride of Iron in dose of ten to twenty drops and more if
necessary four times a day, well diluted with water. This is very hard on
the teeth and should be taken through a glass tube.
Diet. Milk, broths, etc., liquid diet or foods. (See Nursing Dept. under
Nursing. When you nurse any infectious patient, you must be not only
careful of your patient, but of yourself. It is not necessary in order to
do good nursing to endanger yourself; and a nurse who does not know how to
care for herself, cannot successfully nurse the sick. In erysipelas I
always watch the eruption closely. Sometimes it recedes, and the patient,
of course, is worse. Then there are some people who believe in "pow-
wowing." They have that done and then do not take care of themselves. I
have attended such cases. One case was especially striking. The "pow-wow"
person did his work and then the patient thought himself well and
proceeded to enjoy himself and caught cold. The result was the "going in"
of the eruption and a beautiful cough. I succeeded in my efforts and the
next day he had the erysipelas going along nicely, but no cough. I write
this so you will take proper care of yourself and shun conjurers and their
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