- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Karl Herxheimer

Born  1861
Died  1942

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German dermatologist, born June 26, 1861, Wiesbaden; died December 6, 1942, Theresienstadt, Czechoslovakia.

Biography of Karl Herxheimer

Karl Herxheimer studied in Freiburg im Breisgau, Strassburg, and Würzburg, obtaining his doctorate in Würzburg in 1885. He was subsequently assistant at the pathological institute at Frankfurt am Main under Carl Weigert (1845-1904), and in Breslau he trained with Albert Ludwig Siegmund Neisser, the discoverer of the gonococcus. In 1885 he joined his brother in practice in Frankfurt-am-Main, where he spent his entire professional life. He became a specialist in dermatology in Frankfurt, where in 1894 he became director of the city skin clinic. With Paul Ehrlich he contributed to the founding of a university in Frankfurt, becoming professor ordinarius for skin and venereal diseases there in 1914.

Herxheimer, who was of Jewish stock, had already resigned his positions because of high age when the Nazis took power in 1933. Despite the advice from his friends, he stubbornly refused to leave his native country. With no regard to his fame and great achievements he was imprisoned in the autumn of 1941 and on August 27, 1942, aged 81, he was taken to the concentration camp Theresienstadt, where it is assumed that he succumbed on December 6 that year.

Herxheimer’s disease is sometimes mentioned with Pick, who already in 1895 had described the early form of the disease under the name of "erythromelie".

We thank Søren Nørby, Denmark, for information submitted.


  • Ueber eine bei Syphilitischen vorkommende Quecksilberreaktion.
    Deutsche medizinische Wochenschrift, 1902, Berlin, 1902, 28: 895-897.
    Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction.
  • Ueber Acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans. With Kuno Hartmann.
    Archiv für Dermatologie und Syphilis, Wien, 1902, 61: 57-76.
    This condition was described by Robert William Taylor (1842-1906) in 1876. Herxheimer and Hartmann named it, separating it from other atrophies which had been called by a number of different names.
  • Die Behandlung der Krankheiten der behaarten Kopfhaut.
    With Karl Altmann (born 1880). In Slg. Abh. Dermat., volume 1, 5. Halle an der Saale, 1912.
  • Über die Teerbehandlung von Hautkrankheiten. With W. Born.
    Slg. Abh. Dermat., n. F., H. 4. Halle an der Saale, 1923.
  • Lehbuch der Hautkrankheiten. With Edm. Hogmann. Berlin, 1928.
  • Mykosis fungoides. With H. Martin.
    In Handbuch der Haut- und Geschlechtskrankheiten. Volume 8, 1. Berlin, 1929.

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