Style & ShowbizHealth

Hairy could mean healthy

HealthBy Sunday World
Hairy could mean healthy

Women have always been keen to have hair-free bodies, and now more men are getting into waxing, shaving and plucking.

But among the smooth, fuzz-free limbs, there are people who are bucking the trend, including Wrecking Ball singer Miley Cyrus, who recently posted a picture of her hairy armpits. And it seems that the 22-year-old could have the right idea, as there are lots of health benefits to keeping things au natural.

For instance, hair anywhere on the body is important for helping to maintain skin health. “Each hair follicle [the tiny structure that sprouts hairs] is not just producing a hair fibre, but also has masses of blood vessels, nerves and fat around it,” Des Tobin, a professor of cell biology at the University of Bradford told the MailOnline.

Hair follicles are also rich in stem cells - cells that never lose the capacity to renew themselves - which help the skin heal. The good news is that waxing or shaving doesn’t cause these benefits to be reduced, as the follicles remain intact.

Back in the day, body hair also acted as a method of sun protection, and while we’re nowhere near as hairy as our prehistoric ancestors, it is believed that hairier people may have an extra degree of sun protection. Similarly, body hair helps keep us warm, with studies finding that a bald head loses more heat than someone with a full head of hair.

Hairy nostrils are a smaller, but no less unsightly issue for some people. But George Murty, an ear, nose and throat consultant at University Hospitals of Leicester, advises people to trim said hair rather than pluck it out.

“When you pluck, you're pulling the root out, which leaves a hole in the skin - that's a potential source of infection, so you may want to avoid plucking when there's lots of infections around,” he said.

Nostril hair acts as a defence against the likes of dust getting into the nose and down into the lungs, so take care of it.

Then of course there’s the area that many of us wish to banish hair from, our pubic region. Men and women both want fuzz-free nether regions but the hair that grows there does serve a purpose.

“Even the finest hair coverage on the body provides this glide buffer zone,” added Professor Tobin. “So, some people who shave under their arms find it's uncomfortable to move their arms against the side of their body - like a carpet burn."

Repeated hair removal in this area, whatever the method, can sometimes cause a minor infection called folliculitis - disrupting the hair follicle may allow bacteria to get into the hair's root, so it might be worth considering being a bit more retro down below.

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