a. Symptomatic. Many forms of treatment are available for disorders of the
skin. Frequently, treatment is instituted merely to relieve the distressing symptoms and
may have no effect on the course of the disease. The antipruritic (anti-itch) medications
are of this type. Both lotions and powders are used and are effective in a fair
percentage of cases. Systemic antipruritics are not very effective but are of some use
in systemic diseases that have itching at some stage. Antihistamines are used primarily
in allergic reactions, and they are extremely effective in relieving the itching as well as in
suppressing the skin lesions.
(1) Antibiotics. Antibiotics may be used topically when there is an infection
in the skin, either primary or secondary. The infection should always be present before
the antibiotic is used. The prophylactic (preventive) use of topical antibiotics is
dangerous because these drugs have a higher than usual incidence of sensitivity
reactions when used in this manner.
(2) Steroids. The numerous synthetic steroid preparations have been of
great assistance to the dermatologist. Many diseases will be controlled by steroids after
all other means of treatment have failed. Steroids usually are given systemically, and
they may cause serious consequences; therefore, steroids are normally used only after
other means of therapy have failed. The topical use of steroids, however, is effective
and safe because negligible quantities are absorbed, even through raw lesions.
(3) Antipyretics. Aspirin and acetaminophen are the most effective agents
available for reducing temperatures.
Section V. NATURE AND CAUSES OF DISEASE
2-16. DEFINITION OF DISEASE
Disease can be defined as a derangement of the normal functioning of one or
more of the body processes. This interference with the normal body functions either
prevents them from taking place, or causes them to act in an abnormal manner. For
example, a tumor may obstruct the flow of intestinal contents, or bacteria may cause
irritation or inflammation. In the following text, consideration will be given to those
factors which are responsible for interference with the normal body functions, in other
words, the etiology (causes) of disease.