Posted in SKIN PROTECTIVE FUNCTION on February 11th, 2011 by admin – Be the first to comment

The hair evidently serves as a protection to those animals which possess it. It cushions blows, and takes up chafe; it holds the warm air about the body in cold weather and wards off the ultraviolet, the burning rays of the sun, in the summer. (Don’t clip your long-haired dog in July and August. His tender skin needs the shade and he does not give off heat through the skin as you do.)

Of course human beings do not really need their hair as their remote ancestors did. They have learned to fashion garments which take its place. Any physician can name a number of people who have suddenly and completely lost their hair, even their eye lashes and the hairs inside their nostrils. Except for the reasonable unhappiness over their altered appearance, they are not apparently any worse off.

Hair in humans is now a distinguishing sex characteristic. Yet the “crowning glory” of womanhood is exclusively theirs only by the forbearance of their male friends. Witness the picturesque appearance of Buffalo Bill or the Stuart Cavaliers. The “beard of goats and men” does establish pretty accurately the sex of the wearers, and an abundance of hair over the rest of the body is fortunately the proud possession of males. The two sexes are distinguished by the arrangement of pubic hair. That of the male comes up in a triangular shape to the umbilicus while in the female it stops short at a transverse line just above the mons veneris, the prominent pad over the bone at the lowest part of the abdomen. In certain disturbances of the endocrine system, that is, the glands of internal secretion, the male is apt to have a female distribution of hair, and vice versa.

It is evident that human hair is a great source of worry. Most of the worriers are bothered by its loss; a few by the presence of too much. For those who have too much, treatments with an electric needle can kill individual hairs, and X-ray will remove the hair. This latter is a tricky procedure arid should be used only by competent X-ray physicians.

For the other side of the story: if the hair begins to come out so as to leave irregular bald spots, and then see a skin specialist. It might be ringworm, or alopecia areata. The Greeks thought that a person who had patches of baldness looked like a mangy fox so they gave the name “alopecia areata” to the condition. This does not refer to the shiny pates so common in our middle-aged and older men. Often, of course, small spots of baldness are due to ringworm or other infections. The spots we are referring to have no evident cause.