Chapter

A Dermatological Diagnosis

Ralph Colp Jr. M.D.

in Darwin's Illness

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print June 2008 | ISBN: 9780813032313
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039237 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5744/florida/9780813032313.003.0029
A Dermatological Diagnosis

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In the year 2000, Dr. Gordon Sauer, an American dermatologist, published an article, “Charles Darwin Consults a Dermatologist”, in which he diagnosed Darwin's skin disease as being atopic eczema. This was the first time in nearly 120 years of comments on Darwin's illness that anyone had proposed a diagnosis for his dermatological symptoms. While Dr. Sauer believes that this allergic state is a cause for Darwin's skin symptoms, he does not believe that allergy can account for the other symptoms of Darwin's illness, as has been proposed by Fabienne Smith. The evidence for his dermatological diagnosis is presented. Whether or not Darwin had atopic dermatitis can only be confirmed by allergen tests that have been developed since his death, and he may occasionally have had other kinds of skin disorders. But the diagnosis of atopic dermatitis fits what is known about the nature and history of his dermatitis better than any other diagnosis.

Keywords: Charles Darwin; Dr. Gordon Sauer; atopic eczema; dermatological symptoms; dermatological diagnosis; atopic dermatitis; allergen

Chapter.  621 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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