I have seen some pretty bad hair in my years in the emergency department. I am not talking about a style, cut or color not to my taste. I mean gross hair. I have seen lots of people with lice. I have also seen people with problems caused by their belief they had lice when they did not. One woman dug at her hair so much trying to dig out her nonexistent lice that she turned the back of her hair into a giant dreadlock ball. One man burned his scalp when he lit his hair on fire trying to get rid of his lice.
The other day, my patient was a young man who was in the emergency department for something completely unrelated to his hair. As I examined him, however, I couldn’t help but notice he had an Afro pick so entangled in his hair that it was, at first, difficult to tell what it was. He didn’t offer an explanation for how he ended up in this situation.
I asked him if he wanted me to help him take the pick out. He seemed appreciative of the offer. He also agreed to let me take a picture of it and share it with you. With some work, one of our ED techs was able to work the pick out, leaving a giant dreadlock ball for him to deal with later.
We addressed his other concerns and he left, with his newly liberated pick.
Some clarification about what you are seeing in the picture: This is the back of his head. The pick’s handle is pointing straight up. The tines of the comb are enmeshed in the hair, some of them showing below, pointing to the right. A staff member’s hand is on the patient’s right shoulder.
Here is an image from the internet that shows, basically, what the pick looked like.
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