In the Ebers papyrus, 1550 B.C., mention is made of blisters, ointments, clysters, mineral and vegetable drugs.
In British pharmacy gall-nuts are used in the preparation of the two astringent ointments unguentum gallae and unguentum gallae cum opio, and of the tinctura gallae, and also as a source of tannin and of gallic acid.
The surface of the skin may be invaded by parasitic organisms and may exhibit spots, which are removed by something which will destroy the parasite, such as ointments containing mercurial salts.
Used externally it is an antiseptic and disinfectant, and is used 5 to 10% in ointments in the treatment of chronic skin diseases such as psoriasis and eczema of a sub-acute character.
Common frankincense is an ingredient in some ointments and plasters, and on account of its pleasant odour when burned has been used in incense as a substitute for olibanum.