Body Hair: Your own fleece


Body hair, termed androgenic hair, develops on the body during the years of puberty. We need this hair to regulate our body temperature. When it’s cold, the hairs stand up because the tiny muscles surrounding the hair follicles are trying to trap more heat. This is when we see goosebumps on our skin. Hair is all over our bodies. We have eyebrows, facial, arm, leg, chest, and pubic hair. Fine hairs found all over the body are called vellus which comes from the Latin word “fleece”. Larger more coarse hairs found on the eyebrows, eyelashes, armpit, facial, and pubic areas, are called terminal hairs. The cells of the hair follicles are constantly regenerating. We aren’t wooly mammals with constant hair growth. Hair growth actually goes through active and resting periods. The duration of growth varies on certain parts of our bodies, which is seen between the difference of our head hair and leg hair (for example).

The amount of hair on your body is determined by a number of factors. The amount of hair you have can be based upon your ethnicity. Different ethnicities have different amounts of terminal hairs. Hispanic and Middle Eastern people have the most hair while Asians have the least. Hair growth can be influenced by hormonal imbalances. For example, an increase in testosterone can cause an increase in hair. This testosterone growing hair is an unwanted condition called hirsutism. Women with irregular periods and polycystic ovarian syndrome are also more prone to an increase in hair growth. Autoimmune conditions can result in hair loss which is the case with types of alopecia. Being iron deficient or having an underactive thyroid can also cause hair loss.

There are certain home remedies that can help stimulate hair growth. Eating a high protein diet can help due to the amino acid called keratin. Cysteine is another type of amino acid that can help grow hair faster. Sources of vitamins are a popular method because they contain biotin, folic acid, and iron. Less hair washing can help preserve the natural oils of the hair needed for hair health and growth. Less stress is also important which will help reduce disruption to the hair-growth cycle. It is also important to regularly trim the ends of your hair and brush it when it is wet to help prevent damage that can affect hair health. Apple cider vinegar can also stimulate hair growth by helping to balance pH levels effecting the hair follicles. Aloe-vera and onion juice can also remove sebum from the hair which slows hair growth.

Hair is everywhere and we tend to value it in certain places on our body than others. Hair is our skin’s protector. We shave it and remove it, but always expect it will come back. Don’t take for granted your hair follicle health and a natural layer of our body that we need.

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Dr. Megan Johnson McCullough owns a fitness studio in Oceanside CA called Every BODY's Fit. She has a Doctorate in Health and Human Performance, M.A. in Physical Education & Health Science, and she's an NASM Master Trainer & Instructor. She's also a professional natural bodybuilder, fitness model, Wellness Coach, and AFAA Group Exercise Instructor. She has 6 books on Amazon too,.