In a preliminary paper, we1 pointed out that the mercury in the practice of mercurial inunction is probably absorbed only from that part of the ointment which has been rubbed into the hair follicles and into the entrance of the sebaceous and sweat glands; and that therefore any mercury remaining on the surface of the skin, after the rubbing is stopped, would be only an objectionable nuisance, without any therapeutic effect.
In order to test this assumption, a series of forty-four patients was treated with mercury rubs in the usual manner, except that the skin was carefully cleansed with benzin at the end of the half-hour rubs, so as to remove all mercury that had remained on the surface.
The results bore out our expectations: Mercury absorption, as judged by gingivitis, etc., occurred in the same proportion of cases, and after the same average number of rubs, as one
COLE HN, HUTTON JG, SOLLMANN T. THE CLEAN INUNCTION TREATMENT OF SYPHILIS WITH MERCURY. JAMA. 1924;82(3):199–200. doi:10.1001/jama.1924.02650290029007
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