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Nov 8, 2016
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Ear hair exists for a good reason.

There are two types: macroscopic, which is visible to the naked eye, and the other is microscopic.

Macroscopic ear hair can be seen at the entrance of the ear canal. Just like nose hair, it acts as a filter preventing the entry of foreign particles into the ear.

"It is specifically located at the outer one-third of the canal which is cartilaginous," says Dr. Willie E. de la Cruz, an ear, nose, throat-head and neck surgeon at the Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Sta. Mesa, Manila. "Ear hair may also include the fine vellus hair covering much of the ear, particularly at the prominent parts of the anterior ear. Vellus hair provides both thermal insulation and cooling for the body."

If you've ever wondered how long it could get, here is Radhakant Baijpai, the world title holder for the longest ear hair. International news website Daily Mail UK reported that his ear hair was 13.2 cm long when recognized by Guiness in 2003. Today, it's 25 cm long and still growing.

Dr. de la Cruz says that testosterone is the hormone responsible for the lengthening and coarsening of hair not only in the ear, but also in the nose, shoulder, chest and back.

Meanwhile, the microscopic hair cells are found in the inner ear, the cochlea, which is the organ for hearing.

"The hair cells in the cochlea (shaped like a snail) are responsible for changing the vibrations received by the eardrum and transmitted by the ossicles (the three smallest bones in the body) into electrical signals. These electrical signals are sent to the brain by the hearing nerve or auditory nerve. The brain then tells you that you are hearing a sound and what that sound is," explains Dr. de la Cruz.

At some point, the ear hair can become unruly and unsightly. Don't ever think of plucking them as it could lead to a harmful infection.

He warns: "Pulling out the ear hair with tweezers is not only painful but it can leave a small open wound for bacterial entry and infection."

"In case ear hair grows out of the ear canal entrance, it can be safely trimmed with small scissors with rounded tips. An electric trimmer can also be safely used," adds Dr. de la Cruz.

If you want to get rid of ear hair for good, the safest and most effective method is laser hair removal or electrolysis. It might hurt your wallet, but at least not your health.

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For more on this and other ENT concerns, you may visit Wilfredo E. de la Cruz, MD, at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Dr Juan J. de la Cruz Medical Specialists, or 480 Boni Avenue Mandaluyong City. He is a Diplomate: Philippine Board of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and Life Fellow: Philippine Society of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

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