Manage those ‘short hairs’ with a light hand | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

By “short hairs” I don’t mean what you’re thinking right now. The ones I refer to are your nose hairs and ear hairs.


Medical evidence argues it’s unwise to either let one’s short hairs grow wild and free or totally get rid of them. Short hairs do serve a healthful purpose, as do all the other kinds of hairs on your body.


Don’t reach for the tweezers just yet. It pays to know something about the “enemy” you plan to eliminate.


The first thing you’ve got to know is that short hairs aren’t your enemy.


Short hairs might be embarrassing and seem to have as useful a purpose as your appendix (a totally useless body part until it becomes infected). But short hairs “serve and protect” like the upright policemen they really are. Like good cops, short hairs protect you from the dangers of the outside world.


Nose hairs or olfactory cilia in the anterior nasal passage of each nostril are one of your body’s first lines of defense against harmful environmental pathogens such as germs, fungus and spores.


They also protect you against pollutants (dust, soot and particulate matter from exhaust fumes) that infest the dirty air we breathe.


A lack of nasal hair could allow potentially harmful particles to invade your respiratory system.


You can also consider your nose as a “hair conditioner” and nose hairs the filters in this hair conditioner. This “hair conditioning” is created both by the larger or macroscopic nose hair and by microscopic cellular strands or “nasal cilia” that line the interior of the nose.


As inhaled air moves through the nasal passages, it’s humidified by mucus and nose hair. Humidity is important because it prevents the respiratory system and nasal passage from drying up.


Nose hairs and cilia are, therefore, key defense mechanisms against harmful pathogens and solid particulate matter present in the air. This process, called inertial filtration, means the air we inhale into our lungs is very well cleaned.


Trim, don’t pluck


That’s why some doctors discourage people from completely removing their nose hair either by plucking or cutting. Lightly trimming your nose hairs is the wisest choice, according to accepted wisdom.


On the other hand, some experts believe that although long nose hairs look unsightly, it would be best to allow their growth. Frequent and constant nose hair plucking and cutting could weaken the respiratory system’s defenses and can cause breathing discomfort, according to some medical sources.


Persons who choose to remove almost all of their nose hair could also find themselves susceptible to allergy attacks, sinusitis and respiratory infections.


Male concern


While there’s a dearth of in-depth medical studies about nose hair, what’s out there suggests this problem occurs mainly among men in their 30s and continues as they grow older.


No one’s quite sure what triggers this sudden growth in nose hairs, however. One theory is that as men age, the hair follicles in their noses become more sensitive to the male hormone DHT (dihydrotestosterone) that stimulates unwanted hair growth. The exact relationship of DHT to nose (and ear) hair growth remains unclear.


What happens to the larger particles trapped in the nose by both the nose hairs and cilia? These wind up as “kulangot” (“snot,” “booger” or “bogey” in English). We expel them by nose picking (preferably in private) or by sneezing. Old dry mucus normally loosens on its own and causes a person to sneeze.


Sneezing forces out old dry mucus through the nose. Once this is accomplished, new moist, sticky mucus is forced to spread all over the nostril and nose hair, restoring the body’s first line of defense against air pollution.


An American medical doctor described nose and ear hairs as “God’s little practical joke… He takes the hair from your head and puts it on your ears and nose.”


Another pundit said the growth of nose and ear hair is the result of what he called “The Law of Conservation of Hair.” This “law” claims the loss of a man’s sexual energy as he ages is inversely proportional to the rate of growth of his nose and ear hair. That is, the less sexually active a man is, the hairier his nose and ears become.



But it seems harder making a sound case for the benefits one derives from ear hair. The case for ear hair is similar to that for nose hair, however: Ear hair filters out unwanted airborne particles from entering the human body, in this case the ears.


There is, however, no conclusive medical proof men’s ears become hairier as they age. There’s also no concrete evidence that having hairy ears makes one more susceptible to a heart attack. What is known is that some Asian ethnic groups (not Filipinos) seem more prone to having hairier ears.


Ear hair normally grows at two sites: the tragus (or the entrance of the ear) and the “pinna,” (or auricle) which is another term for the outer ear. Ear hair is more common in men than among women, for reasons that have yet to be fully explained. Some say this is another offshoot of DHT, the male hormone.


Plucking seems the best method of getting rid of unwanted ear hair regularly. Since you can’t do this efficiently by yourself, someone in your family or who loves you should do this for you.

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