Selected writings of John King:
A revival of the use of tincture of chloride of iron among Eclectic physicians as a local application to chancre and chancroid recalls this contribution in which Professor King introduced this procedure. Not only did he successfully employ it when syphilis became manifest by the appearance of the initial lesion, but in several instances advised it as a prophylactic which acted successfully in individuals taking the precaution to use it, when others not so treated contracted the disease from the same source of infection. In a symposium in one of our journals a year or two ago several surgeons recalled this old method of treating the chancre as one of the most successful that has been used, and declared that they discarded newer forms of treatment in favor of the iron application as taught by Professor King.—Ed. Gleaner.
ON CHANCRE.—It is well known that for the last eighteen or twenty years my treatment of chancre has been different from that ordinarily pursued by medical men. Thus, while the chancre remains unbroken and in the pustular form, in which condition it is not acted upon by the oxygen of the atmosphere, I rupture it with a needle, and immediately apply to it a few drops of nitric or muriatic acid. . . In some few cases it causes severe pain for a short time, but in most instances the pain is not noticed. No other treatment is required, unless to allay any fears the patient may entertain in regard to a perfect cure, for which purpose the chancre may be kept in contact with tincture of muriate of iron on lint, as named hereafter. I have treated some hundreds of cases in the above manner, and have not yet heard of any return of the disease, in either the secondary or tertiary form.
As a local application to open chancre, I know of no better agent than the tincture of muriate of iron, which must contain sufficient muriatic acid to enable it to mix with water, without giving any deposit on standing for twenty-four hours; and which deposit may be prevented from occurring in the tincture of the shops by addition of a sufficient amount of the muriatic acid. This tincture is to be gently applied, by means of a feather or piece of lint, to the chancre three or four times a day, being careful not to rub or treat it roughly; and during the intervals a piece of lint moistened with the tincture must be kept in constant contact with the ulcer. Occasionally it causes severe pain, when it should be diluted with as little water as possible, but in most cases, after the first or second application, patients hardly notice it. It keeps the surface of the ulcer clean and soft, and thus prevents any absorption of the venereal virus; in a day or two after its first application the chancre becomes changed into a simple sore, and is frequently difficult to detect from the surrounding healthy integuments, which appearance the practitioner must not be misled by and, in consequence, cease his internal medication too early. This application has not only been efficacious in my own practice for some sixteen years past, but likewise in that of several other practitioners, who have made use of it on my recommendation, among whom are some of my colleagues.
Perhaps it may not be out of place to remark here that I consider both varieties of the sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia and Kalmia latifolia) most efficient agents in primary syphilis, acting promptly and permanently; and the preparation most commonly exhibited by me internally is the following: ℞. Compound Syrup of Stillingia; Saturated Tincture of Poke Root; Saturated Tincture of Sheep Laurel, 4 fluidounces each. Mix.
The dose varies from a teaspoonful to half a tablespoonful three times a day, according to the effects of the laurel upon the system.—J. KING, College Journal of Medical Science, 1856.
The Biographies of King, Howe, and Scudder, 1912, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M. D.