Indian Journal of Dermatology
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Table of Contents 
Year : 2012  |  Volume : 57  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 80-81
Skin diseases in India: History and evolution

Department of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology, MGM Medical College and LSK Hospital, Kishangange, India

Date of Web Publication10-Mar-2012

Correspondence Address:
Sanjay Ghosh
Department of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology, MGM Medical College and LSK Hospital, Kishangange
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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How to cite this article:
Ghosh S. Skin diseases in India: History and evolution. Indian J Dermatol 2012;57:80-1

How to cite this URL:
Ghosh S. Skin diseases in India: History and evolution. Indian J Dermatol [serial online] 2012 [cited 2021 Dec 8];57:80-1. Available from:

Author: Amiya Kumar Mukhopadhyay

Publisher: Allied Book Agency, Kolkata, India.

Year: 2011


History depicts the way through which the man has been traversing in this mysterious universe. When we forget our history, the mirror showing our own image disappears from our vision. Knowledge and wisdom originate not only from the instant discovery or recent advances but also from our past experiences and mistakes. According to Milan Kundera, the renowned novelist, we can see the entire shape of the incidence and conclude from which has already been happened but not of the present or future occurrences.

We may feel proud that one Indian physicist in the recent International group hunting for the God particles, Higgs-Boson has quoted Rig Veda where a hymn on creation has prompted him to seek the answer to the question posed in the ancient text regarding the origin of the universe. Similarly, treatise on Indian ancient medicines may open new window through which future medical scientists may look toward newer sky.

In India, history of science has not much been documented like other branches of history. This may due to lack of effort by scientists themselves or joint venture by them and historians as history of science can never be recorded without active involvement of scientists. History of medical sciences remains grossly under-discussed topics and especially history of dermatological science being quite meager in Indian perspective beside only a few useful write-ups.

In this context when Amiya Kumar Mukhopadhyay took the trouble to plunge into this topic in this era of "populist scientific culture" and silently performed the task with great motivation and commitment, we must salute him for the job. His journey, definitely not much smooth and comfortable due to scarcity of recorded evidence in history of Indian medical science, has been still able to gather lot of pearls from our own heritage. This may lead to opening of the eyes of those Indians who still believe in "worshiping Western dogs keeping aside Indian Gods". It is also true that many Indian strongly holds the view that "everything is in Vedas" ignoring all researches in modern science, which has been criticized by world-famous physicist Meghnad Saha with satire. We can assess the achievement as well as limitation of our past system only after visualizing the real and entire canvas.

Preface of the book by Karl Holubar, the pioneer in history of dermatology, has enriched the book by his modest but wise comments. Dr. Mukhopadhyay has classified the chapters in details, e.g. skin diseases in ancient, medieval and modern India, etc. He has also enumerated the landmarks in the history of Indian dermatology and included extensive bibliography. Illustrations of Indian medicinal herbs used in skin therapy and certain ancient sculptures and books showing evidences of that time are real treasure of the book.

It remains a well-known fact that Western medical sciences stand on the pillars of Greco-Arabic medicine. World is unaware of the influence of ancient Indian medicine and ayurveda upon the Greco-Arabic medicine. Thus, direct and indirect contribution of ancient Indian medicine on Western medicines has always been hidden. Such endeavor by Amiya Mukhopadhyay may focus light on this gloomy corner of medical history.

In older Indian literature like Charakasamhita, "kustha" has been described in great details but this includes many other dermatoses other than leprosy. It is curious to know that Indian scientists thought about some worm-like infective agents behind leprosy so early when other part of the world could not guess such etiology. Ancient Indian dermatologists have attained their highest clinical acumen by describing prognostic factors of leucoderma. They could wisely judge the recalcitrance of leucoderma with leucotrichia, of confluence pattern, on the sites of peri-anal, palms, and lips. At the same time, some myth and misconception prevailed in Indian write-ups contributing leprosy to act against holy men or misdeed of the present and/or past life! Ancient Indian medical science brilliantly progressed by keen observation and experienced intuition has occasionally been clouded by superstition and non-scientific judgment due to lack of proper methodology.

The book has also described vividly the present status of Indian dermatology which led us to have a clear concept about the evolution of dermatological sciences in modern India. The history of development of dermatology and recognition of the subject like other branches of medicine and contribution of individual dermatologists as well as Indian Association of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology has been recorded with earnest care and sincerity. Last but not the least, the author briefly also mentioned the history of homeopathy, tribal, folk medicines, and cautioned against the lethal effect of quackery on the present day dermatological practice as well.

This book would be a real asset to our personal and Institutional libraries and always would be mentioned while describing the history of dermatology in India. I think, devoted worker like Dr. Mukhopadhaya cannot end up only by writing this book and he will continue to venture by newer projects on this topic so that we will get newer treatise from him. Regarding two facts I want to draw his attention: (a) the format of the book could be improvised to a more of a book-pattern than of thesis-pattern and (b) the lay-out and art-work of the book deserve more professional touch.


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