Pruritus Hiemalis.


Daniel G. Lass, M. D., Ocheyedan, Iowa

Pruritus is a functional affection of the skin, having as its sole symptom, itching, burning or pricking sensations. The forms of pruritus are many, but I shall speak only of pruritus hiemalis, known as winter itch, frost itch, etc.

The treatment advised in most of the textbooks for this disease includes nearly everything in the materia medica both for internal and external use. All of the authors finally concluded in their statements that each individual case must be studied by itself.

I desire to present a case that I studied a la Eclecticism, showing how physicians who preceded me in the case, during many years, failed to study the symptom complex and therefore failed to cure the case.

Mrs. G., 53 years of age, mother of three boys, strong and vigorous, past the menopause, at which time and during the seventeen years which had past, she has suffered every winter, from the first frost in October until the May following, a most intolerable itching, a general pruritus.

During the warmer months of the year, she has been free from the disease. In that time she has employed a different physician each winter, with the results that the best they could do was to relieve her for perhaps half an hour at a time, by bathing with carbolated water, or some similar lotion,

So serious was the difficulty that it was impossible for her to attend to any social or religious duties, because of the necessity that seemed to be imperative for her to scratch, unless she would again bathe in carbolated water or apply a carbolated ointment.

This fall she came into my hands. I determined first that there was no diabetes, nor no albuminuria. She did not wear rough woollen garments, observed the laws of hygiene, was cleanly in every particular, temperate in all things, especially in her eating. There was no uterine trouble, and yet one would naturally think from the fact that the pruritus began when the menstruation ceased that the etiology of the condition might be uterine in character. She gave me the names of nearly one hundred different remedies that the different doctors had prescribed, which included most of the medicines mentioned by authors of diseases of the skin, besides external applications and a long list of soaps.

Aside from the pruritus, the patient felt exceedingly well, except that she was inclined to be a little nervous. After at least two hours spent in making a thorough examination, I simply threw the name pruritus to the four winds of heaven, and discovered that I had two specific conditions left, which seemed to me the ones that should receive specific treatment. The first was the exceedingly dry skin. This made a distinct impression upon my mind. The next was nervousness. For these two conditions I prescribed:

Specific jaborandi, drops 20
Specific Scutellaria, drops. 2
Water, q. s., to make, ozs. 8

A tablespoonful before each meal and at bedtime. She took this medicine during the month of October, 1908, and from that time until the present, January 25, 1909, she has not had the least suggestion of a return of the trouble. She is at the present time entirely free from the itching, and attends church, lodge, and all her other social duties.

I gave her no other medicine. I used nothing external, I made no change whatever in the diet or in the habits of life. I simply determined the two leading exact specific conditions, and applied to them the specific and exact Eclectic remedy which experience has taught us will cure such conditions, and by this method I cured my case of pruritus of seventeen years' standing.

Ellingwood's Therapeutist, Vol. 3, 1909, was edited by Finley Ellingwood M.D.