JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer
Reiling, Assistant Editor.
A writer announcing himself as a surgeon in one of the great hospitals
and professor in a physiomedical college of one of our leading cities and
medical centers, has recently given to a metropolitan journal an article nearly
two columns long in condemnation of bathing, especially in the winter time.
According to him a bath is a perilous thing. It is a custom of an innervating
civilization, the natural man gets along without it—the more bath tubs
and hot water the weaker the race. We can admit that the habitually unbathed
individual is stronger in a sense and to some senses, but our author goes
farther and claims that with every hot or cold bath in cold weather we invite
pneumonia; that only the excretion loaded cuticle can give the proper protection.
He has learned, he says, from actual experiment, on himself and others, that
the skin does not need bathing to be clean. Dressing to suit the weather and
changing underclothing sufficiently often is all that is needed. Perspiration
is also apparently considered as an abnormal symptom, or rather as a bad habit
that we must learn how to prevent. To refrain from baths and avoid perspiration
are the important rules of hygiene inculcated by the reformer. The conventional
hobo best fills the bill, and is therefore, as we may reasonably assume, to
be taken as the nearest to the ideal of personal hygiene in actual practice.
It would be pleasing to learn how this surgeon manages in his surgical work,
or does he find in the abnormal conditions there occurring reason for temporarily
abandoning his principles? It is to be hoped he does.
THE NEW GOSPEL OF DIRT.THE NEW GOSPEL OF DIRT.. JAMA. 2002;288(14):1788. doi:10.1001/jama.288.14.1788