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December 8, 1975

Hair Can Be Dangerous to Health

Author Affiliations

Harvard Medical School Boston

JAMA. 1975;234(10):1017-1018. doi:10.1001/jama.1975.03260230017007

To the Editor.—  The answer given by Charles W. Macenski (232:849, 1975) concerning covering of hair is irresponsible. Long loose tresses that dangle onto an aseptic field or that are clutched by an infant's hand are a means for spread of contagion by contact. Habitual grooming motions to remove offending hair from the face or to accentuate a hair style make hair a direct extension of the dirty hand. An anecdote is pertinent and more eloquent than microbiologic data.The patient had partial large bowel obstruction, resulting from a large tumor of the rectum. He was lying in the lateral Sims position. Rectal examination was demonstrated to a student, who then leaned over the patient in imitation. Long hair dangled on the patient's buttocks. As the gloved finger was withdrawn, a gush of feces soiled the glove. The student recoiled, stood erect, and reflexly wiped the hair from his face