Frederick Forchheimer

Frederick Forchheimer (1853-1913) 300

Frederick Forchheimer (1853-1913) was an American pediatrician

Original member of the Association of American Physicians, and of the American Pediatric Society, serving both as president.

Eponymously remembered for his 1898 description of a ‘transient rose-red eruption upon the velum of the palate‘ associated with third disease (rubella) – Forchheimer spots

  • Born on September 6, 1853 in Cincinnati, Ohio
  • 1873 – College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York; travelled to Europe for two years of further education
  • 1875 – Successively demonstrator of histology; professor of chemistry; lecturer on pediatrics and medicine at the Medical College of Ohio.
  • 1882-1893 Professor of physiology
  • 1892 – Published the diseases of the mouth in children
  • 1893-1913 Professor of the theory and practice of medicine, Medical College of Ohio and when Ohio and Miami Schools were merged – at the Medical Department of the University of Cincinnati
  • 1905 – Dean of the Medical College of Ohio until merger
  • 1912 – Honorary Doctor of Science, Harvard University
  • Died on June 1, 1913 in Cincinnati, Ohio

Medical Eponyms
Forchheimer spots (1898)

In 1898 Forchheimer reviewed the world literature on enanthem (rash on the mucous membranes) to differentiate rubella from German measles and scarlet fever. He found no conclusive evidence in the literature quoting Jürgensen (1896) “an enanthem may be present – it may be absent…“.

During May 1898, Forchheimer examined 22 cases during a rubella epidemic documenting a consistent enanthem appearing simultaneously with the exanthem. His first patient was his 11 year old son:

…a macular, distinctly rose-red eruption upon the velum of the palate, the uvula, extending to but not on to the hard palate. These spots were arranged irregularly, not crescentically; were the size of large pin-heads, were very little elevated above the level of the mucous membrane, and did not seem to produce any reaction upon it. Six hours after this, the enanthem had become decidedly paler, the infiltration very much less, and by the next morning it had disappeared.

The claim that this enanthem is distinctive can be defended by comparison with the enanthem of those two diseases with which rubella is confounded.

In scarlatina the enanthem appears from twelve to twenty-four hours before the eruption; it appears on the pillars of the fauces in the form of the characteristic puncta, then rapidly spreads over the mouth in the form of a scarlet red coalescing eruption, which finally ends in desquamation and lasting well into the second week of the disease.

In measles the enanthem begins upon the soft palate from thirty-six to forty-eight hours before the exanthem, in the form of purplish or bluish papules, arranged crescentically, extends over the cheeks , accompanied by the blue tongue; it is at its maximum with the beginning of the eruption and may take as long as three or four days to disappear.

It will be seen, therefore, that in all respects does the enanthem of rubella differ from that of scarlatina and measles, and when seen can be utilized with certainty for differential diagnostic purposes.

Forchheimer 1898
Forchheimer spots (1898)
Forchheimer spots, Public Health Image Library (PHIL)

Major Publications



Eponymous terms


Annick Wilson LITFL Author

British doctor currently working in Emergency Medicine in Perth, Australia. University Leicester 2019 (MBChB). Keen on a career in geriatrics/palliative care but currently being indecisive about which country to start training in!

BA MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM. Emergency physician, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.  Passion for rugby; medical history; medical education; and asynchronous learning #FOAMed evangelist. Co-founder and CTO of Life in the Fast lane | Eponyms | Books | Twitter |

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