What is the Purpose of Nose Hair?

Have you ever wondered why we have nose hair? It’s allergy season here in Wonderopolis, and many people are experiencing sneezing due to the pollen and dust in the air. This connects to today’s Wonder of the Day.

When we are young, our nose hair is so short that we may not even notice it. However, as we grow older, our nose hair starts to grow longer. By the time we become adults, many of us have visible nose hair sticking out of our nostrils. While this can be annoying, nose hair serves an important purpose.

Nose hair is not just there to bother us. It plays a crucial role in our respiratory system. When we breathe, we not only take in oxygen, but also particles present in the air, such as dirt, viruses, bacteria, and pollutants. Nose hair helps to capture these particles, preventing them from entering our bodies.

There are two types of nose hair that work together to protect us. Deep inside our noses, we have tiny hairs called cilia. These hairs constantly move back and forth, capturing dangerous particles in mucus. The cilia then transport the mucus filled with particles towards our throat, where it is either coughed up or swallowed.

The second type of nose hair is called vibrissae. These longer hairs trap larger particles, preventing them from reaching the cilia. Instead, they stay trapped in our nose hairs until we sneeze or blow them out. This is why people tend to sneeze more during the spring when there is a high concentration of pollen in the air. The vibrissae are located further up in our nostrils and are sometimes visible.

Although nose hairs serve an important function, many people dislike them. Some individuals try to remove nose hair by plucking or trimming. However, plucking nose hair can be painful and can lead to empty hair follicles that can become infected. It is essential to avoid plucking nose hair. Trimming is a less risky option, but it is crucial to remember that nose hairs have a purpose. If they are cut too short, they may not be able to effectively perform their job. While long nose hairs may not be aesthetically pleasing, they are preferable to constantly falling ill due to inhaling harmful particles.

As air pollution worsens globally, nose hairs become even more important. In 2016, poor air quality was responsible for approximately 4.2 million premature deaths, according to the World Health Organization. In the United States, about 40 percent of the population is at risk of health issues related to air pollution. The risk is even higher in many Asian countries.

Given the high levels of pollution in the atmosphere, it is a challenge for our nose hairs to keep up with their job of protecting our bodies from harmful particles. Therefore, it is important for us to not hinder their function by plucking or trimming them.

Give It a Try

Find an adult friend or family member who can assist you with the following activities:

  • Examine a map that compares air pollution levels in different parts of Asia to the hypothetical length of nose hair required for protection. Identify locations with critical air pollution levels and those with minimal pollution. Discuss with a friend or family member the potential causes for the differences and imagine what color would represent the pollution over your city.
  • Imagine that a friend or family member is contemplating the removal or trimming of their nose hair. Compose a persuasive letter to convince them not to do it.
  • Our noses possess remarkable capabilities beyond just nose hair. Explore more information about the functions of your nose and write a summary paragraph to share what you have learned.

Sources of Wonder

  • https://www.businessinsider.com/why-you-shouldnt-pluck-your-nose-hairs-2016-7 (accessed 25 Apr., 2019)
  • https://www.popsci.com/science/article/2011-12/fyi-whats-point-nose-hair
  • https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/pollution/ (accessed 25 Apr., 2019)
  • https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/pollution/ (accessed 25 Apr., 2019)


1. Why do we have nose hair?

Nose hair serves a vital purpose in our respiratory system. It acts as a natural filter, preventing dust, dirt, and other particles from entering our nasal passages. The hair traps these particles, preventing them from reaching our lungs and causing potential damage or infections. Additionally, nose hair helps to moisturize the air we breathe, preventing dryness and irritation in the nasal cavity. While nose hair may not be the most aesthetically pleasing feature, it plays an important role in protecting our respiratory health.

2. Can nose hair be removed?

Yes, nose hair can be removed. However, it is important to exercise caution when doing so. Nose hair provides essential protection for our respiratory system, so completely removing it may increase the risk of respiratory infections and allergies. If you choose to remove nose hair, it is recommended to use a gentle method such as trimming with small scissors or using a specialized nose hair trimmer. Avoid plucking or waxing nose hair, as these methods can cause pain, irritation, and potentially lead to infection.

3. Does the amount of nose hair vary among individuals?

Yes, the amount of nose hair can vary among individuals. Some people naturally have more nose hair, while others have less. The density and thickness of nose hair can also differ from person to person. These variations are largely influenced by genetics and hormonal factors. It is important to remember that having more or less nose hair does not indicate any health issues. As long as the nose hair serves its purpose of filtering and protecting the respiratory system, the amount is considered normal.

4. Can nose hair grow excessively?

Yes, in some cases, nose hair can grow excessively. Excessive nose hair growth can be caused by hormonal imbalances, certain medications, or medical conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Excessive nose hair growth can be bothersome and may affect a person’s self-esteem. In such cases, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional who can provide guidance and recommend appropriate treatment options, such as laser hair removal or hormonal therapies.

5. How can I keep my nose hair well-maintained?

To keep your nose hair well-maintained, it is recommended to trim it regularly using small scissors or a specialized nose hair trimmer. Trimming allows you to remove any long or unruly hairs while still maintaining the necessary protective function of nose hair. Avoid plucking or waxing nose hair, as these methods can be painful and increase the risk of infection. Additionally, practicing good overall hygiene, such as regularly washing your face and using a humidifier in dry environments, can help keep your nose hair and respiratory system healthy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *