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Darwin's Illness$
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Ralph Colp Jr.

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780813032313

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813032313.001.0001

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A Dermatological Diagnosis

A Dermatological Diagnosis

Chapter:
(p.171) 29 A Dermatological Diagnosis
Source:
Darwin's Illness
Author(s):

Ralph Colp Jr. M.D.

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813032313.003.0029

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

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