A Former Patient Reminds Me About Noxzema

With Mom and Peter(R)

I met a former patient, Lee, who said my stories brought back many memories for her. “But, Dr. Ed, you forgot to mention Noxzema.”
She’s right. Now, I remember my story.

The summers at the beach were a joy and put us into a frenzy when we were about to go.

In the early years, we rented a house for a week…. Well, not a house per se but  two rooms in a rooming house.
It had a central kitchen and bathroom, none of which mattered. We were at the beach.

In my enthusiasm, I rushed to the shore and threw away the key. That is to say, we stayed there all day.

Sunblock? Protection? Are you kidding? It was beach and swim, beach and swim.

I paid for it. That evening, I had the worst sunburn ever, especially on my legs which I spread to walk. I cried a lot. Going to bed was the worst.
I could barely put the sheet on me. Forget turning around. The pain and the heat were awful.

“You need Noxzema,” said Aunt Della as she ambled into my room.Noxzema,

She along with my uncle, grandparents and parents were sitting on the porch (they always did that in the summer) under the stars and heard my moaning.

“What’s that?”

“Sunburn cream. It takes the pain away.”

“I hate stuff like that on me.”

“Be quiet.” She tossed the sheets.

I turned to look. The stuff came in a blue bottle. She took gobs of it and slathered it all over my legs. It smelled like mint, ice and Vicks all rolled into one. It worked.

As I wrote this, I wondered how all this stuff about Noxzema started.

It was invented by Francis J. Townsend, a doctor,  and it was referred to as “no-eczema”. Townsend prescribed it as a remedy to vacationers burned by the sun.

Townsend later gave the formula to Dr. George Bunting who introduced “Dr. Bunting’s Sunburn Remedy” as the first real alternative to the greasy creams.

The inspiration for the name Noxzema supposedly came from a satisfied customer who exclaimed, “You knocked my eczema.”

Interesting, if true.

It worked, and I fell asleep.


By | 2017-07-10T16:10:16+00:00 July 21st, 2014|History, Stories of the 1940's and 1950's|8 Comments


  1. Nancy McCarthy July 21, 2014 at 2:40 pm - Reply

    Oh yes I remember the smell of Noxzema, not sure what was in it but it did work. I’m pretty sure as teenagers we used it to cleanse our faces too , it was cool and refreshing but if you got some in your eye it burned like crazy.. thanks for the memory .

    • Ed July 22, 2014 at 12:38 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Nancy. I have been told that the sense of smell brings back more memories.

  2. Karen Izzo July 21, 2014 at 4:22 pm - Reply

    I used Noxzema for sun burn too. I still have some in a cabinet somewhere….oh how we burned. No one used sun screen. Did it even exist? I have the sun damage to prove it too. My brother, who was very fair ended up with a melanoma on the top of his head. It’s a wonder how we survived….no sun screen, car seats, seat belts, helmets….

  3. Ed Iannuccilli July 22, 2014 at 2:47 am - Reply

    You are right, Karen. Oh so many hours in the sun when we were kids.

  4. Colleen Kelly Mellor July 22, 2014 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    Well, folks…have I got a Noxzema story for you! My sister used the white pomade…slathered on her skin and woke up the next day with eczema that caused her face to blow up like a basketball (she was apparently allergic). A day or two later, her skin crackled, as if it were a fruit bursting its skin. At 8 years of age, she was so crushed by her appearance (that brought forth jeers and ridicule from us, her older siblings) that she remained in our upstairs bedroom closet, refusing to join the rest of us, for two whole days. Our mother finally coaxed her out. It’s safe to say: she never used that skin product promising beauty ever again.

  5. Ed Iannuccilli July 22, 2014 at 7:09 pm - Reply

    Oh, such a tough story, Colleen. Poor sister… the pain of sunburn, eczema and ridicule.

  6. Beverly Romano July 22, 2014 at 11:10 pm - Reply

    Noxzema and Vaseline…..first aid kits in a jar ! Still use it.. No sunblock but we all had old sneakers to go into the water down he beach house ! My Uncle was great to take us all to dig for quahogs. Always came back with a bushel. My Grandmother would separate them…big ones for chowder….medium for stuffies….it was great… We would save all the biggest quahog shells and clean them up and put them in a bag. On a rainy day or if we’ were bored, we would paint those shells and use them for ash trays or keep our roller skate keys in them.

    • Ed July 23, 2014 at 12:54 pm - Reply

      Great story, Beverly. Did they ever pick the periwinkles off the rocks, cook them and pick them out of the shell with a safety pin. Of course, they ate them. Ugh! Not me.

Leave A Comment