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Scrofula is the term used for tuberculosis of the neck, or, more precisely, a cervical tuberculous lymphadenopathy. Scrofula is usually a result of an infection in the lymph nodes, known as lymphadenitis and is most often observed in immunocompromised patients (about 50% of cervical tuberculous lymphadenopathy). About 95% of the scrofula cases in adults are caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, but only 8% of cases in children. The rest are caused by atypical mycobacterium (Mycobacterium scrofulaceum) or nontuberculous mycobacterium (NTM). With the stark decrease of tuberculosis in the second half of the 20th century, scrofula became a very rare disease. With the appearance of AIDS, however, it has shown a resurgence, and presently affects about 5% of severely immunocompromised patients.
Signs and symptoms
The most usual signs and symptoms are the appearance of a chronic, painless mass in the neck, which is persistent and usually grows with time. The mass is referred to as a "cold abscess", because there is no accompanying local color or warmth and the overlying skin acquires a violaceous (bluish-purple) color. NTM infections do not show other notable constitutional symptoms, but scrofula caused by tuberculosis is usually accompanied by other symptoms of the disease, such as fever, chills, malaise and weight loss in about 43% of the patients. As the lesion progresses, skin becomes adhered to the mass and may rupture, forming a sinus and an open wound. "
Included in the article is the info that surgical excision and antibiotics are the treatments of choice. Both carry risks.
Iodine has been used, historically, as a treatment for scrofula.
source: Therapeutics and materia medica, Volume 2 by Alfred Stillé, 1874
In the most common and the earliest form of scrofula, glandular enlargement, two elements are frequently combined, the hypertrophic and the tubercular. Under the influence of iodine, especially in the form of lotion or liniment, the former may be entirely removed, but it is doubtful whether the latter is ever really so. At an advanced stage of the disease, when softening of enlarged glands and ulceration of the integuments have taken place, iodine will frequently promote the healing of the ulcers, while it improves the general health in a marked degree. Even in scrofulous enlargements of the articulations depending partly upon thickening of the fibrous coverings and partly upon effusion within the synovial capsule, this medicine, externally as well as internally, exerts a decidedly curative influence, especially when associated with cod-liver oil. It is also capable of producing a marked amelioration of caries of the bones, and sometimes it effects a complete and permanent cure. It is prudent in all such cases not to make use of iodine, so long as an inflammatory action predominates; if then employed, it tends to induce suppuration of the enlarged glands, and to excite inflammation in other diseased structures. It is true that the suppuration is generally of a more acute form, and terminates more rapidly in cure than that which tends to arise spontaneously, and probably would so arise in the part affected. Tabes mesenterica, although generally a fatal disease, is probably in some cases susceptible of cure. This would appear to be proven by Rilliet and Barthez, who found the mesenteric glands converted into cretaceous masses. A number of cases, also, collected by Boinet seem to show that the removal of the disease occasionally takes place under a plan of treatment of which iodine forms the principal part. But in this, as in all other scrofulous affections, the association of iron and cod-liver oil with iodine greatly enhances the probability of cure. To be successful, also, the treatment must be continued for a long time after the disappearance of the local disease. For scrofula is eminently a constitutional affection, and it is only by a well devised and steadily pursued regimen, both dietetic and medicinal, that it can be kept in abeyance. It is in this disease that Boinet especially recommends his iodized food, consisting of bread, gingerbread, cakes, biscuits, chocolate, wine, beer, etc., made with natural products yielding iodine, such as fuci, marine plants, cruciferse, salts containing iodine, and some mineral waters holding this substance in solution.