Tetter didn’t receive the type of notoriety you’d expect from a skin disease with such a recognizable name. Sure, it didn’t have the laugh value of “jock itch” or the funny spelling of “psoriasis,” but surely it’s more deserving than a end-of-the-list mention on a Gold Bond commerical.
According to The American Heritage Dictionary, tetter is a term for “any of various skin diseases, such as eczema, psoriasis, or herpes, characterized by eruptions and itching.” Apparently, there are many kinds of tetter, including moist, branny, scally, scald-head, salt-rheum, and running tetter (many referenced here).
According to the landmark paper by J. Goens and P. Gheeraert titled “Skin Diseases in Shakespeare’s Works,” Shakespeare mentioned tetter in his works. For instance, tetter is used in both Coriolanus and Hamlet (“And a most instant tetter bark’d about, / Most lazar-like, with vile and loathsome crust / All my smooth body.”).
And in closing, it’s clear that tetter is an important skin disease that has been overlooked far too long. Of all the popular skin diseases, I’d most like to have tetter. I think “running tetter” sounds the most fun, but I’d be willing to give “scally tetter” a chance, too.
Next skin disease from a Gold Bond commerical to tackle: Ring Worm. -ram
Posted in Just Plain Odd