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(skā`bēz), highly contagious parasitic skin disease caused by the itch mite (Sarcoptes scabiei). The disease is also known as itch. It is acquired through close contact with an infested individual or contaminated clothing and is most prevalent among those living in crowded and unhygienic conditions. The female mite burrows her way into the skin, depositing eggs along the tunnel. The larvae hatch in several days and find their way into the hair follicles. Itching is most intense at night because of the nocturnal activity of the parasites. Aside from the burrows, which are usually clearly visible, there are a variety of skin lesions, many of them brought on by scratching and infection, including impetigo. All clothing and bedding of the victim and his household should be disinfected. Disinfestation of the skin is accomplished by applying creams or lotions containing permethrin or gamma-hexachlorocyclohexane or by taking ivermectin. A variety of S. scabiei causes mangemange
, contagious skin disease of domestic and wild animals. The several types of mange, including follicular and sarcoptic mange, are caused by various minute parasitic mites that burrow into skin, hair follicles, or sweat glands.
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 in animals.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a contagious skin disease of humans caused by the itch mite. Scabies occurs after direct contact with various objects and clothing of a person suffering from scabies.

Seven to ten days after infection, a rash appears in the form of tiny nodules, blisters, and slightly raised straight or curved lines about 1 cm in length (mite burrows). The rash occurs in the folds between the fingers, on the sides of the fingers, at the bends of the upper limbs, and on the front and sides of the trunk; in children, it occurs all over the body. The rash is produced by fertilized female mites, which bore into the epidermis, where they deposit their eggs. Mite reproduction is very rapid: about 150 million individuals appear within three months. Persons afflicted with scabies are disturbed by severe itching, especially at night, and in warm conditions. Ulcerations often form on the skin as a result of infections brought on by excessive scratching.

Treatment involves the application to the affected areas of Wilkinson ointment, a 33 percent sulfur ointment, a 20–25 percent soap and water emulsion of benzyl benzoate, a 60 percent sodium thiosulfate solution, or a 6 percent solution of hydrochloric acid. Scabies can be prevented by the observance of the rules of personal hygiene, periodic examination of children’s groups, and the isolation and treatment of individuals afflicted with scabies and the disinfection of their belongings.


Mashkilleison, L. N. Infektsionnye i parazitarnye bolezni kozhi. Moscow, 1960.
Kozhnye i venericheskie bolezni, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1975.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


A contagious skin disorder caused by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei burrowing beneath the skin, causing the formation of multiform lesions with intense itching.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


a contagious skin infection caused by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei, characterized by intense itching, inflammation, and the formation of vesicles and pustules
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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