It can be tempting to pull out protruding nose hair. But if you can help it, please resist.
Nose hair, or vibrissae, plays a vital role in filtering foreign particles entering the nasal cavity.
"It is the first line of defense against airborne pathogens like bacteria, fungi, spores and other debris," explains 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. "Nose hair also provides additional humidity to the inhaled air and conditions it before entering the lungs. As air passes through the nasal cavity, the mucus and hair produce heat and moisture."
The network of nerves surrounding a nasal hair follicle gives signals to the body about the environment. Therefore, plucking your nose hair the wrong way wouldn't just cause pain, but will also affect your overall health.
Dr. de la Cruz reveals that infection in this area of the face can even caused death.
"Removal of nasal hair by pulling can leave wounds for bacteria to enter. Many carry Staphylococcus aureus, which could access small openings that can cause life-threatening brain infections. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) which is more difficult to control and kill because of drug resistance. So pulling your nose hair can be a dance with death," warns Dr. de la Cruz.
The doctor says that you should be aware of the "Triangle of Death," an area of the face whose apex is the point at bridge of the nose in between the eyes to the corners of the mouth. Blood from this point flows directly to the cavernous sinus at the base of the brain; infection caused by tweezing may reach that region and form a blockage that can cause bigger problems.
If you can't take the sight of unwanted hair, the safest thing to do is to trim anything that grows beyond the entrance of the nose.
"We can safely trim longer [nose] hair without affecting the filtering ability. We can use nasal hair trimmers or scissors with rounded tips. This is the perfect tool you can use without damaging the lining of the nostril," says Dr. de la Cruz.
Or, opt for manual or battery-powered nose hair trimmers.
"Always clean and sterilize the instruments for nose hair trimming with soap and water. Alcohol is also a good antiseptic. Should you get injured in the process, it is advisable to place topical antibiotics especially if the skin in the area becomes bruised or cut," tells Dr. de la Cruz.
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.