Favus - Encyclopedia

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Medical warning!
This article is from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica. Medical science has made many leaps forward since it has been written. This is not a site for medical advice, when you need information on a medical condition, consult a professional instead.

FAVUS (Lat. for honeycomb), a disease of the scalp, but occurring occasionally on any part of the skin, and even at times on mucous membranes. The uncomplicated appearance is that of a number of yellowish, circular, cup-shaped crusts (scutula) grouped in patches like a piece of honeycomb, each about the size of a split pea, with a hair projecting in the centre. These increase in size and become crusted over, so that the characteristic lesion can only be seen round the edge of the scab. Growth continues to take place for several months, when scab and scutulum come away, leaving a shining bare patch destitute of hair. The disease is essentially chronic, lasting from ten to twenty years. It is caused by the growth of a fungus, and pathologically is the reaction of the tissues to the growth. It was the first disease in which a fungus was discovered - by J. L. Schonlein in 1839; the discovery was published in a brief note of twenty lines in Miillers Archie for that year (p. 82), the fungus having been subsequently named by R. Remak Achorion Schonle'inii after its discoverer. The achorion consists of slender, mycelial threads matted together, bearing oval, nucleated gonidia either free or jointed. The spores would appear to enter through the unbroken cutaneous surface, and to germinate mostly in and around the hair-follicle and sometimes in the shaft of the hair. In 1892 two other species of the fungus were described by P. G. Unna and Frank, the Favus griseus, giving rise to greyish-yellow scutula, and the Favus sulphureus celerior, causing sulphur-yellow scutula of a rapid growth. Favus is commonest among the poorer Jews of Russia, Poland, Hungary, Galicia and the East, and among the same class of Mahommedans in Turkey, Asia Minor, Syria, Persia, Egypt, Algiers, &c. It is not rare in the southern departments of France, in some parts of Italy, and in Scotland. It is spread by contagion, usually from cats, often, however, from mice, fowls or dogs. Lack of personal cleanliness is an almost necessary factor in its development, but any one in delicate health, especially if suffering from phthisis, seems especially liable to contract it. Before treatment can be begun the scabs must be removed by means of carbolized oil, and the head thoroughly cleansed with soft soap. The cure is then brought about by the judicious use of parasiticides. If the nails are affected, avulsion will probably be needed before the disease can be reached.

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