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July 1978

The Quiddity of the Head Louse

Author Affiliations

Beachwood, Ohio

Arch Dermatol. 1978;114(7):1099. doi:10.1001/archderm.1978.01640190077045

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To the Editor.—  In the past three years there has been a virtual epidemic of head lice in white schoolchildren in the private schools and affluent suburbs of the greater Cleveland area.Having been taught that blacks have a resistance to head lice and never having seen a case of pediculosis capitis in a black patient (despite a practice made up in part by a large number of blacks), I wrote to the QUESTION AND ANSWER editor of JAMA to learn why there are no head lice infestations in black schoolchildren.The laconic reply was: "... the reason is not known."I, therefore, submit the following possible explanation for the dearth of head lice and nits in blacks:Black people in the United States— adults and children—use creams and oils on their scalps and hair for grooming purposes.Female lice, in order to give their eggs the best possible conditions, glue

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