Naked Science Forum

Life Sciences => Physiology & Medicine => Topic started by: thedoc on 01/04/2012 10:06:01

Title: Why does plucking nose hair make me sneeze?
Post by: thedoc on 01/04/2012 10:06:01
Matt | Model Concepts  asked the Naked Scientists:
Hello Chris,

I've been listening to your podcasts ( for ages and always wanted to send in my questions.

Why does plucking a nose hair make me sneeze?!

Love your program. You guys rock.

Matthew Attwell
Durban, South Africa

What do you think?
Title: Re: Why does plucking nose hair make me sneeze?
Post by: cheryl j on 18/04/2012 02:59:18
Why wouldn't it? Thats the whole point of nose hair. They are sensitive to anything touching them that shouldnt, and nature didnt really count on you yanking them out. But a much weirder thing is that plucking eyebrow hair causes some people to sneeze. This is because the eyebrow and the inside of the nose both share branches of the trigeminal nerve, and messages from one area sometimes get confused in the brain with messages from another area. Another branch of the trigeminal nerve goes to the eye, and sudden bright light occasionally makes people sneeze as well. Weird, huh.
Title: Re: Why does plucking nose hair make me sneeze?
Post by: Don_1 on 18/04/2012 09:28:25
It is rather embarrassing to have a veritable forest protruding from oneís hooter, but as Cheryl wrote, nasal hair is there for a purpose. The sensitivity of these hairs can trigger a sneeze when some alien particle shoots up your beak. Though the sneeze may not evict the trespasser, it will cause the lining of your airway to coat itself in some extra mucus (snotÖ.. snis!) which will trap the offending gate crasher (or, in this case, nose crasher) and prevent it from getting into the lungs. It can then be evacuated (hopefully into a tissue or bogey rag) with a nose blow.

It does seem that as we get older, this nasal Barnet Fair ( gets a tad unruly and may require some attention to obviate our embarrassment. Plucking is one solution, but you can also buy one of those nostril lawn mowers which will trim the hair back to a more acceptable length.

Personally, Iím considering having mine permed and dyed, red on the left and green on right. Port and starboard, donít you know.

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Donít take any notice of me and my proboscis, Iím nuts.