Ohry A.1*, Ohana N.2
A- Conception and study design; B - Collection of data; C - Data analysis; D - Writing the paper;
E- Review article; F - Approval of the final version of the article; G - Other (please specify)
Plica Polonica (or Plica Neuropathica) is a rare hair disorder, an acute hair felting. The one who described this phenomenon thoroughly and who has been almost totally absent in history-of-medicine textbooks, is the French - Dutch physician,
Joseph Romain Louis Kerckhoffs (or Kerckhove) (1789 - 1867).
Keywords: Plica Polonica, Joseph Romain Louis Kerckhoffs
Emeritus Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine
Reuth Medical & Rehabilitation Center, Tel Aviv, and Sackler Faculty of Medicine
Tel Aviv University, Israel,
Progress in Health Sciences
Vol. 8(1) 2018 208-212
© Medical University of Białystok, Poland
Blanket my loins: elf all my hair in knots
(W. Shakespeare’s “King Lear,”
Edgar in Act II, Scene III)
Medical eponyms are usually named after physicians, scientists, causative agents, saints, and rarely after "famous" patients .
Occasionally, one can encounter with a (recent or archaic term) disease or syndrome which were coined after a city, country, river, an area, or an island: "the French disease", "the Italian disease", Guinea Worm, West Nile Virus, German Measles, Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever, Marburg Virus Disease, St. Louis Encephalitis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme Disease, Meleda disease and more. Less known is a dermatologic term: "Plica Polonica". This rare phenomenon is mentioned today only 19 times on PubMed site.
The Dermatological Problem
Plica Polonica (or plica neuropathica) is a rare hair-disorder, an acute hair felting, which is associated with lice eggs on hair, chemotherapy, azathioprine-induced pancytopenia, seborrheic dermatitis, schizophrenia, after use of shampoo, rupoid psoriasis, trichoma, pediculosis capitis and scabies. It is "characterized by irreversible twisting and matting ofhair resultinginahardimpermeablemassofkeratin...ithasbeenattributetolongitudinalsplitting or weathering of hair shaft due to vigorous friction and frequent use of harsh shampoos and harsh cleansers and/or due to keeping long hair with poor hair care or neglect, parasitic infection" .
"Acute hair felting is a rare disorder of scalp hair. In this condition, the hair becomestwisted,entangledasahardstonymassresemblingabird'snest.Suddenhairmatting hasbeenreportedearlierintheliteratureaftervigoroususeofchemicalandherbalshampoos. Plica polonica is a patchy area of hair matting occurring in due course of time in neglected hair or underlying psychiatric illness".
The basic textbook on history of medicine  says: "plica polonica, the unsightly disease of matted hair, introduced into Poland by the Mongol invasion, 1287".
Le Page and Kerckhoffs
A physician from Manchester, JF Le Page, coined the term plica neuropathica in 1884 but he did not mention the one who described thoroughly the phenomenon and who is almost totally absent in history of medicine textbooks: the French-Dutch physician, JosephRomain Louis Kerckhoffs (or Kerckhove) (1789- 1867) .
He was the only son of Marie-Gertrude Lindge–Kerckhoffs (1767-1841), and Jean-François Kerckhoffs (1748-1819). His fatherwas asurgeonandamayorofNuth,Holland,andgavehissonanhomeeducationbyaJesuitMonk. By his father suggestion, he left to Heidelberg and Strasbourg to study law. But he chose medicine. He got his MD degree in 1811. His dissertation was on: "l’air atmospherique etson influence sur léconomie animale". In 1814 he got married to Grégorine-Anne-Marie Chapuis in Maestricht [5-6].
The "Larousse Dictionnaire historique des Me'decins" described him as follows: "JosephKerchoveVanderVarent,chirurgienmillitairebelge(Nuth1789-Malines1867). Chirurgien de l'arme'e napoleonienne en Russie, en Allemagne et en France, il sert ensuite les Pays-Bas et devient me'decine-chef du service de sante' militaire d'Anvers . Son fils Euge'ne fut un politicien connu ".
In 1833, he changed his name to "De Kerckhove".