Find out why our nose and ear hairs seem to grow without limits as we age, while we lose the hair on our heads. Understanding this strange phenomenon will help us to better accept and manage these inevitable changes in our appearance.
Hair loss and unwanted hair growth with age
As we age, it is common to lose hair on the head and gain hair in other parts of the body. If you're a man over 50, you've probably wondered why you're losing hair on your head and why the hair on your nose and ears seems to grow without limit. Even if you're not a man of that age, or if you're not a man at all, you may have asked yourself the same question.
We have all observed this phenomenon in our grandparents, parents, older siblings or aunts and uncles. A veritable “jungle” of hair seems to form and clog these small orifices. There are special razors available to remedy this, or you can try using your regular razor, but be aware that pain is almost guaranteed if you do it just for aesthetic reasons.
The phases of hair growth and the influence of testosterone
It is important to understand that hair goes through three phases of growth: the anagen phase (growth), the catagen phase (cessation of growth) and the telogen phase (resting before growing back). According to Nish Manek in BBC's Science Focus, “Some scientists have suggested that nasal hair becomes more prominent as men age because of the influence of testosterone on the duration of the anagen phase.”
Over the years, the hair follicles in the nose and ears become larger, which also leads to an increase in hair size. This phenomenon is also observed during puberty, when testosterone levels increase in adolescents, transforming small hairs on the face, armpits, chest, legs, arms and pubic area into longer, thicker hairs.
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and unwanted hair growth
In addition to the influence of testosterone, hair follicles also become more sensitive to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a derivative of testosterone that shortens the lifespan of affected follicles, explains Ian Lecklitner in an article for the razor brand's website ‘Dollar Shave Club‘. Here is the answer to this great paradox.
According to several studies, DHT plays a crucial role in the growth of ear and nose hair. Indeed, the scientific community has dubbed this phenomenon the “androgen paradox”. In other words, DHT causes hair loss on the head while stimulating facial hair growth.
However, the exact mechanism behind this phenomenon is not yet well understood, as Manek, a general practitioner in London, points out. So far, there has been a lot of research into why men lose their hair, but few have looked at the problem of excess hair. So, while we have some clues to explain this mystery, there is still much to discover and understand about this intriguing topic.
I am a student and I am part of the editorial staff of thesilverink.com. I have the chance to enjoy writing, however, I also like to discuss all subjects and especially anything related to Science.