(Matted hair; Polish ringworm; Plica polonica)
This is a condition of the hair in which it becomes mechanically matted together from a mixture of dust and filth and, remaining so for a while, inflammation of the scalp ensues or pediculi develop. The mass is apparently lifted from the scalp by the growth of the hair. It is the result of neglect and not a distinct disease and is chiefly seen among ignorant Poles and Russians. Occasionally it is noticed among emigrants from these countries and less frequently, in a mild degree, among the uncleanly of any country.
Neuropathic plica is a term applied to a rare condition characterized by the contraction of the hair of a limited surface into a firm, tangled or rope-like mass, impossible to easily unravel. At least ten cases of this rare condition have been reported in this country by White, Stelwagon and others.
Etiology. Lack of cleanliness and failure to comb the hair, together with a certain superstition among Russian and Polish peasants, that the formation of a plica will cure other diseases, are the only known factors. The neuropathic type is supposed to be of nervous origin.
Treatment. The masses of hair and dirt may be removed with scissors and any actual disease of the surface treated according to its nature. If a superstition in regard to a plica is cherished by the possessor, the scalp may be cleansed with some deodorizing oil, soap and water, and the mass untangled with comb and brush. Nervous plica may suggest such remedies as Borax and Vinca minor.