Confluent Smallpox

Posted by on Feb 6, 2014

A fatal case

“Discrete” or “distinct” smallpox — the most common form of the disease — was bad enough, but there were even worse forms, though they were rarer.

In “Confluent” smallpox, the pustules grew so thick that they ran together into one massive sore.

  • The skin pulled so tight due to the swelling infection that victims were said to look unnaturally old or young.
  • Some were said to look as if they’d been wrapped in a tight gray caul.


Lady Mary, who was said to be “exceedingly full,”
probably had confluent smallpox.


A woman recovering from confluent smallpox

A third form of the disease was even worse: Hemorrhagic Smallpox.

All photos on this page by J. B. Byles, in Thomas Francis Ricketts, The Diagnosis of Smallpox (London and New York: Cassell and Co., 1908)

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