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February 11, 1905


JAMA. 1905;XLIV(6):477-478. doi:10.1001/jama.1905.02500330045004

In 1893 Finsen came forward with the proposition to place smallpox patients in rooms from which the chemical rays of light are rigidly excluded by means of red glass, red curtains, etc. He claimed that if the patient during the appearance and the growth of the exanthem is protected from the chemical rays, then the exanthem will be less pronounced than otherwise and suppuration with its attendant dangers largely avoided. This is Finsen's red-light treatment of smallpox. Without entering into any discussion of the physics of light involved in the method, let it suffice to say that Finsen was led to advocate the treatment from the following considerations: Chemical rays are irritating to normal skin, and hence, in all probability, they serve to increase the inflammatory processes set up in the skin in the course of variola. He presented considerable evidence from various sources that tends strongly to show that,