I ran across this intriguing subject while researching an early Surname Saturday article about the Pimple surname. I found several references to so-called “death by pimple” and researched further. Clearly, the problem was due to lack of an effective way to treat infection prior to the late 1920’s and early 1930’s.
That’s not to say doctors didn’t try to treat infections. There were advertisements galore during the nineteenth century hailing various “miracle cures” for all sorts of maladies, pimples included. The first instance found in a search of “pimple” at Newspapers.com yielded an article about a suspect in the disappearance of a surgeon who “hath been set upon by some ill people.”
NOTE: This article is being re-purposed and will be included in a future edition of Digging History Magazine. Please check out our new site: www.digginghistorymag.com. Samples are available by clicking magazine image. Regular monthly issues currently available for only $1.99. – Updated 1/20/18.