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September 1956

Sabra Dermatitis: An Occupational Dermatitis Due to Prickly Pear Handling Simulating Scabies

Author Affiliations


From the Department of Dermatology and Venereology (Prof. A. Dostrovsky, Director), Hadassah-University Hospital.

AMA Arch Derm. 1956;74(3):269-275. doi:10.1001/archderm.1956.01550090043009

During the months of July to October each year, a number of patients of both sexes and all ages present themselves to the Skin Outpatient Department complaining of an itchy rash, over the hands particularly but over the rest of the body as well.

After investigation, it became apparent that all these persons were engaged in the prickly pear (sabra) trade, concerned with picking, distributing, and selling the product. All these patients were in direct contact with the fruit.

This apparent relationship between the fruit and the rash led us to investigate further what appeared to be an occupational disease in this and neighboring countries, and possibly in other lands as well, where the prickly pear grows, viz., northern South America, Mexico, Morocco, Tunisia, and Italy.

Historical Review

A plant named sabra was known in Hebrew medical literature in the sixth century.1 The name is

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