1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Acne

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ACNE, a skin eruption produced by inflammation of the sebaceous glands and hair follicles, the essential point in the disease being the plugging of the mouths of the sebaceous follicles by a comedo, familiarly known as blackhead. It is now generally acknowledged that the cause of this disease is the organism known as bacillus acnes. It shows itself in the form of red pimples or papules, which may become pustular and be attended with considerable surrounding irritation of the skin. This affection is likewise most common in early adult life, and occurs on the chest and back as well as on the face, where it may, when of much extent, produce considerable disfigurement. It is apt to persist for months or even years, but usually in time disappears entirely, although slight traces may remain in the form of scars or stains upon the skin. Eruptions of this kind are sometimes produced by the continued internal use of certain drugs, such as the iodide or bromide of potassium. In treating this condition the face should first of all be held over steaming water for several minutes, and then thoroughly bathed. The blackheads should next be removed, not with the finger-nail, but with an inexpensive little instrument known as the comedo expressor. When the more noticeable of the blackheads have been expressed, the face should be firmly rubbed for three or four minutes with a lather made from a special soap composed of sulphur, camphor and balsam of Peru. Any lather remaining on the face at the end of this time should be wiped off with a soft handkerchief. As this treatment might give rise to some irritation of the skin, it should be replaced every fourth night by a simple application of cold cream. Of drugs used internally sulphate of calcium, in pill, 1/6 grain three times a day, is a very useful adjunct to the preceding. The patient should take plenty of exercise in the fresh air, a very simple but nourishing diet, and, if present, constipation and anaemia must be suitably treated.

Rosacea, popularly known as acne rosacea, is a more severe and troublesome disorder, a true dermatitis with no relation to the foregoing, and in most cases secondary to seborrhea of the scalp. It is characterized by great redness of the nose and cheeks, accompanied by pustular enlargements on the surface of the skin, which produce marked disfigurement. Although often seen in persons who live too freely, it is by no means confined to such, but may arise in connexion with disturbances of the general health, especially of the function of digestion, and in females with menstrual disorders. It is apt to be exceedingly intractable to treatment, which is here too, as in the preceding form, partly local and partly constitutional. Of internal remedies preparations of iodine and of arsenic are sometimes found of service.