Is human body hair pointless?
Some scientists believe that evolution isn’t a real thing; one of the reasons for this is that humans still have what is, in science speak, referred to as ‘vestigial structures’. In layman’s terms, that means ‘pointless body parts’. But is human body hair – not the stuff on your head or under your arms, but the almost invisible stuff that covers almost the entire body – pointless?
You may be surprised to learn that as well as a skilled skateboarder/top lawyer/pioneering doctor, you are also a walking ecosystem; most bodies actually contain more than ten times as many bacterial cells as human cells. Sounds gross, huh? It’s actually a good thing. These bacteria, in return for bed and board, do rather a lot for us.
This community of microorganisms – the human microbiome – has been the subject of many studies. For body hair, it’s all about the microbiome of skin. The different parts of the skin provide different habitats for different bacteria, with the microbe population of the hair follicle different from the populations living in other types of skin cell. For a person to have a complete microbiome, they must have all these different habitats – including hair. Hence, hair is not pointless. Ta da!
But why do we even need a complete microbiome? Can’t we live without all these bacteria living in and on us? It’s simple; they help us fight infection. Without bacteria, when we get sick our T-cells (the white blood cells that help make us better) don’t work as well.
Thus: in order to be healthy, you need to have a good microbiome. In order to have a good microbiome, you have to have all the habitats the bacteria need. In order to have all those habitats, you need to have body hair. So rather than being useless, then, hair is actually really really important to maintaining the health of your skin. You can still shave your pits, though.