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Does nose hair really protect us from viral and bacterial infections?

 One of the obvious facts about  nose hair  that anyone knows is that it purifies the air we breathe, and thus helps us fight  colds  and protects us from   airborne viral and bacterial infections.

But is this “intuitive” information really true? Or is it like other information based on the history of its frequency and transmission between people and not on verification and proof.

Does nose hair protect us from viral infection?

Eric Voigt, an otolaryngologist at  New York University, confirms that the presence of hair in the human nose is very beneficial to his health, and that plucking it may lead to many health problems.

He added, in an interview with  Business Insider,  that the bottom of the  hair follicles  in the nose contains many germs, and when people pluck them, those germs jump up and enter  the body .

He explained that these germs can remain in the nasal cavity and cause serious infections, and may be transmitted through the veins towards  the brain  to cause brain abscess disease or infect the mucous membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord to cause meningitis, and all of these  diseases  that have been mentioned are serious and cause death.

While the  Health Line  medical website published a list of diseases that are transmitted to humans through infection in the event that nose hair is removed, such as:

Nasal vestibule

Nasal vestibular infection is an infection of the inside of the nose. It occurs most commonly as a result of a staph infection when bacteria enter through a wound in the nose that may occur during plucking.

Nose furunculosis

Nasal furunculosis is a deep infection of the hair follicles in the nose that may affect a person in the event of  hair pulling  and cause  pain  , swelling and redness. In rare cases, it may cause serious complications if the infection moves through the blood vessels towards the brain, and these complications include the following:

Cavernous sinus thrombosis is the formation of a blood clot in the part of your brain behind your eyes.

Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the skin and underlying tissues.

Acute bacterial meningitis is an infection of the tissues covering the brain and spinal cord.

dissenting opinion

 The New York Times believes  that the information that says that nasal hair provides protection for humans from germs, viruses and bacteria dates back more than a century ago, specifically to the year 1896.

And that's when two English doctors said in the medical journal  The Lancet : "The interiors of the vast majority of normal nasal cavities are completely sterile. On the other hand, the vestibules of the nostrils are lined with hairs, and all the crusts formed in this area are teeming with bacteria.”

The words they said show how the capillaries act as purifying filters to the point where a large number of microbes are killed in the moist networks formed by the capillaries that line the vestibules.

The British doctors' conclusion might have sounded logical at the time, but until this point, no one had confirmed whether cutting nose hair might make it easier for germs to penetrate deeper into the respiratory tract. 

Are people with thicker nose hair less likely to have asthma?

In a study  of 233 patients published in the International Registries  of Allergy  and Immunology , a team of Turkish researchers found that those with denser nasal hair were less likely to have  asthma , and the researchers attributed this to the filtering function of nasal hair.  

Their observation was interesting, but an observational study cannot prove a causal relationship, and besides, asthma is not an infection.

The researchers did not do any follow-up studies to assess the effect of trimming nose hair on the risk of developing asthma or infection.

The only study on the effect of cutting nasal hair

But in 2015, doctors at the Mayo Clinic conducted the first study looking at the effect of trimming nose hair, and to date, the first and only study.

In it, researchers measured nasal airflow rate in 30 patients before and after nasal hair removal, and found that  nasal hair removal led to improvements in nasal airflow, and the improvement was greatest in those with the largest nasal hairs at the start.

But is an increased rate of airflow from the nose associated with an increased risk of infection?

Dr. David Stoddard, lead author of the Mayo Clinic study, stated that if a person works in construction work, for example, it can be said that the white dust resulting from his work can get stuck in the hairs of his nose.

But it is these large particles that get stuck in the hairs of the nose, and the viruses are much smaller, meaning they are so small that they will pass through the nose either way.

Stoddard stressed that he does not believe that removing nose hair will put a person at greater risk of developing a respiratory infection.

Therefore, this limited study of nasal hair finds that there is no evidence that removing nasal hair by clipping or waxing increases the risk of infection.