chapter  18
4 Pages


Joseph Plenck, a Viennese military surgeon, held a variety of professorial posts in Switzerland, Hungary, and Austria., and wherever he went, he wrote. He seemed determined to compose treatises on every medical subject he taught and, for that matter, on any he might possibly be called upon to teach in the future. Ophthalmology, obstetrics, dentistry, pharmaceutical chemistry, legal medicine, diseases of children, all were grist for his mill, and that list is no more than a sample. The skin's tum to be written up came in 1776. The result was a 128-page monograph in Latin entitled "Doctrina de Morbis Cutaneis," and a fine little book it is. By far the most original of Plenck's efforts, it represented a complete break with the past, a rejection of the classification of skin diseases on the basis of the area of the body involved, and an attempt for the first time to gather into groups those eruptions made up of lesions similar in appearance. The descriptions of the diseases themselves are uninspired and add nothing new, but his classification scheme, shown to the right, was of great importance. It served as the model on which the Englishman Robert Willan two decades later based his great work "On Cutaneous Diseases," the foundation of modem dermatology.