Is this where plastic comes from?
March 21, 2010 10:56 PM   Subscribe

What is this plasticky hair in a pore on my cheekbone?

For the past few years, I've noticed that every so often, the tip of a quite bristly, almost plastic hair pokes out of a pore along my cheekbone. They've been in what I think have been different pores each time, but always in the mid to upper cheekbone area on both sides of my face.

A couple nights ago, I felt the characteristic bristly tip protruding from my cheekbone area and, as usual, pulled it out of the pore with tweezers. The "hair" is about 1/8" long and white. And just so plasticky! I tried to remove the plastic-like shell to see if a hair was underneath, but to no avail. So naturally, I took out my microscope!

I've figured all along that it's been a regular hair that's coated in a super layer of keratin. I looked at both this thing and a hair under the microscope, and they definitely have a similar dark labyrinthine pattern (but remember, the "hair" itself is white). I had pulled the plastic pseudo hair from my face from the root, as I observed the characteristic bulb on one side, and then a very jagged edge on the other. At that point, the light on the microscope began to die and playtime was over.

All I want to know is: what is the name of this thing? Maybe even what causes it? I've looked up a combination of these keywords on Google, and the best I could find was someone else echoing my question on an acne forum. I even asked my dermatologist last visit, and the condition he named ended up being a hyperkerotic bump in your hand...not my face.

Any ideas? I'm 24 and female.
posted by trampoliningisfun to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Similar to this? Apparently it's a common issue.
posted by xil at 11:10 PM on March 21, 2010

It sounds like a whisker to me.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:32 PM on March 21, 2010

I don't know what it is, but for what it's worth I have one too! I've been aware of it for 5-6 years now: it's a single hair on my upper arm, white, transparent, and harder than the surrounding hairs while still flexible. I tweeze it whenever it is long enough for me to feel when I run my hand over my skin (once every two-three months). Definitely not multiple hairs as xil suggests.
posted by halogen at 12:07 AM on March 22, 2010

I had something very similar to what you're describing many years ago, and like halogen's, mine was in my upper arm. Once plucked, it has never returned. Rather than being plastic-like, I could almost swear that it was plastic. It was white and thicker than a hair, and since it never returned, I had decided that it was a small piece of plastic that I had ingested and which had migrated to my arm and out the skin. Typing that now, though, it sounds a little crazy. I'm interested in hearing more theories.
posted by thebrokedown at 1:19 AM on March 22, 2010

Yep, I get these periodically. I just figured it's a weird hair. Mine are on my cheek too, mostly my left and in the squishy bit.
posted by geek anachronism at 3:20 AM on March 22, 2010

I've had a few over the years. One used to grow on the back of my hand. I'm male, so have a certain amount of hand-hair, but this one was much thicker, black and very glossy. I used to pull it out to get a better look at it; after a couple of years it stopped reappearing. Now and again I get one on my face, or on top of my head. They're not particularly noticeable compared to my normal hair, but again they're thick, shiny and springy. I put it down to the general weirdness of aging; I've also managed to grow a white hair from my earlobe that was so incredibly thin that I didn't notice it until it was more than two inches long. Thanks nature!
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 3:38 AM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

I get them. I used to get them every few weeks. If you leave it long enough it gets really thick, darker and will pop out without pulling, just a bit of squeezing. They're incredibly sharp. If you scrape off the keratiny stuff, there is a hair inside. But that is only obvious in the really old ones...where the keratiny stuff can sort of be broken off. In the "younger", thinner ones... it's hard to tell.

I get them on my upper arms, neck, back and every now and then on a breast. There must be something hormonal or dietary in it because I haven't had many for ages... and I've been pregnant and breastfeeding for the last four years.

Would love to hear a name for them. Let us know if you ever find out.
posted by taff at 4:56 AM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

I get something like that on my cheek too, about an inch back from the corner of my mouth. I also started getting itty patches of hairs on my jaw and chin as well as I got older.

They're just hair. Women do get patches of weird facial hair time to time, more so as you get older.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:17 AM on March 22, 2010

We've seen these hairs before. Here, here and here.

This was marked as a best answer.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:31 AM on March 22, 2010

I had one of these and someone told me it was a nerve.
posted by mareli at 7:34 AM on March 22, 2010

My mom gets these on her chin. I think its a normal human body oddity.
posted by WeekendJen at 9:00 AM on March 22, 2010

I had one of these and someone told me it was a nerve.

Nerves aren't exactly painless to remove, though. I think if you plucked it and it WAS a nerve, you'd know.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:21 AM on March 22, 2010

Mr. Deluding has some of these cropping up in his eyebrows - like yours, they're white, thicker, and lack the fine texture of his normal hairs. They showed up around the same time as his seborrheic dermatitis did; perhaps the product of all the extra inflammatory trauma? Steroid creams have helped the dermatitis, but I doubt it'll ever revert the hairs to normal. He calls them Rogue Eyebrow Hairs, and yanks them out with a vengeance... I think he's afraid of going all Pai Mei on me.
posted by deludingmyself at 9:50 AM on March 22, 2010

I had one of these and someone told me it was a nerve.

Someone is very, very wrong.
posted by ook at 9:55 AM on March 22, 2010

My husband gets one on his back. We call it a Brundle.
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:19 AM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

...while I love the fact my hair is only going slightly grey? I would love it if I could go all Pai Mei at people.

Except for the fact I'm painfully anglo.
posted by mephron at 10:21 AM on March 22, 2010

I get those - one on the tip of my nose, and one in my right eyebrow. As far as I can tell, they're just weird, individual, strangely thick hairs. The good news is that they seem to "pluck" easier than other hairs - I've never really thought more about it than that.
posted by deadmessenger at 11:40 AM on March 22, 2010

Any chance it's a hair splinter? Sometimes they still have a root attached, and maybe it's your body's way of dealing with it before it's rejected?
posted by peagood at 1:51 PM on March 22, 2010

I have a patch where I get wiry whiskers. They've gotten more frequent since menopause; estrogen seems to suppress them. I got a pair of really good tweezers, and I am victorious over them.
posted by theora55 at 4:15 PM on March 22, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all the input--it still puzzles me that these rogue hairs don't have a commonly-known name. I'm really intrigued by the fact that they apparently turn dark with age and just sort of pop out themselves...seeing as they're white to begin with, I had no idea this same phenomenon was the topic of those previous posts.

peagood, I'm pretty sure it's not a hair splinter--these hairs seem to strike around the same location over and over again. Now that I think of it, the whole trauma theory sounds super plausible based on my skin care regimen history (aka a habit of going to town with the tweezers!).

thebrokedown, your story of thinking a piece of plastic had migrated to your arm reminds me of how, when I was little, I thought I had invented paper by drying wetnaps over the fireplace. Upon sharing my huge discovery with friends/my parents, no one caught on to my excitement. This enthusiasm lasted for a couple of years, or at least every time we'd eat at restaurants that gave away wetnaps. Looking back, that was a little crazy too.

Thanks again, everyone!
posted by trampoliningisfun at 10:03 PM on March 22, 2010

it still puzzles me that these rogue hairs don't have a commonly-known name.

They do -- "unwanted facial hair."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:24 AM on March 23, 2010

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