Attack of the Killer Mutant Beard Hairs
January 3, 2007 3:36 PM   Subscribe

I have these strange mutant beard hairs. They're thick, black, ropelike, and don't have a white follicle when I pull them out. What's the deal with them?

I'm your usual male American Caucasian-majority mutt with dark hair and a beard (goatee). Every couple of months, while I'm trimming said beard, I'll come across half a dozen or so of these weird beard hairs. They look like rope, maybe 5 times the diameter of a normal beard hair. Sometimes they'll have a core of sebum when I yank them, and they'll always have a black follicle that looks a bit like an oily mop or paintbrush rather than the white follicle a normal beard hair will have when pulled. (And they don't hurt when pulled.) Sometimes they are ingrown, but not always. They're always darker than the other beard hairs. They tend to appear on either side of my chin area.

I not concerned about them, just curious. I have gone through Google a few times and have never found anything describing these weird beard hairs. When I describe it to other men, they have no idea what I'm talking about. What are they? What causes them? Is this just my weird genetic mutation, or is this common?
posted by dw to Health & Fitness (22 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Believe it or not, this has been done before here.

And google says.... weird hair
posted by Leon at 3:40 PM on January 3, 2007

Are your hairs anything like the ones mentioned in this previous ask.mefi post? It doesn't look like there's any definitive answers in that thread... just a lot of "i get those too!"

And, for the record, I get those too.
posted by poq at 3:41 PM on January 3, 2007

Me too, tree stumps.
posted by snsranch at 3:42 PM on January 3, 2007

Response by poster: As usual, my Google-fu is not even white belt worthy.

But yeah, previous AskMe is a perfect description.

Still, though, I don't think it's multiple hairs growing together, because I'd think there'd be a white bulb or three at the bottom of the hair if it were.
posted by dw at 3:53 PM on January 3, 2007

My cat gets those.
posted by flabdablet at 4:34 PM on January 3, 2007

I, too, suffer from the heartbreak of pili multigemini*, and those suckers tend to be ingrown and infected.
*But the name is so pretty, it almost sounds like a variety of gelato.
posted by rob511 at 4:49 PM on January 3, 2007

It might be all from the same folicle. Hairs grow for a while then stop and a new one starts, hopefully pushing the old one out. If it just pushed it aside, maybe it just gets stuck until enough pile up to pull them out in one clump.

I have no idea really. Just a guess.
posted by chairface at 5:02 PM on January 3, 2007

Do you have moles? They might be mole-hairs.
posted by pompomtom at 5:35 PM on January 3, 2007

I suspect these hairs are growing out of dermoid fistulas, which are little holes in your skin leading to dermoid cysts. Here are a couple of pictures of nasal dermoid fistulas. According to the accompanying text:

The median nasal dermoid fistula is a dermoid cyst with a connection to the surface. A midline pit or fistula, often with hairs emanating from it, on the dorsum of the nose is characteristic (Fig. 15.29). Sebaceous material may emanate spontaneously or upon compression.

Note the reference to sebaceous material, which is a common occurrence, along with hair. Many dermoid cysts, particularly ones associated with ovaries, contain a variety of tissues, notably including teeth.
posted by jamjam at 6:13 PM on January 3, 2007

I have noticed that these do not continue to grow, so I wonder if they are dead hairs that have dried out, but haven't fallen out.

Specifically, I wonder if they are hairs that, in the process of shaving, are severed at the root but not pulled all the way out, so the severed hair sits in the follicle. meanwhile another hair grows, but dies, whatever, and now you have a bunch of dead hairs in the same follicle.
posted by Pastabagel at 6:24 PM on January 3, 2007

Hah! I just had one of these yesterday and was kicking myself over blowing my last AskMe question. It was weeeeeird huge, man, but it felt good to pull out.
posted by klangklangston at 6:52 PM on January 3, 2007

I have one place on my forehead that I get the crazy-super-long hair that seems to grow an inch in 3 days, but this super-thick rope beard hair so many speak of has me perplexed. To my knowledge, I have never had one of these.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:05 PM on January 3, 2007

rob511: "I, too, suffer from the heartbreak of pili multigemini*, and those suckers tend to be ingrown and infected."

I get what's shown in this link, in my armpits. It's just like the picture -- two or three hairs coming out of the same or almost the same place. They don't bother me, though. I shave 'em once a week at least. For a little while I got really into plucking my pit hair because they were so satisfying, but damn it hurts to pluck there.

All that said, I'm not convinced this is what the OP is talking about.
posted by loiseau at 8:12 PM on January 3, 2007

I've had some of these come out that are obviously two hairs wrapped around each other because one spiral is white and the other is dark. Why it happens though I have no idea.
posted by cardboard at 8:13 PM on January 3, 2007

Let me say thanks to the OP, those who posted links to other threads, and those who posted therein ... you saved me an AskMe!

I was contemplating asking why I have a leetle patch of armpit-like hair growing on each of my deltoids, far outside my armpit and far above the reach of the softer, downier hair of my forearms, and what it means if the patch on the left side is twice or three times as big as the one on the right. But the 'basin of attraction' idea and the idea that trauma (like, um, shots) can flip the growth cells into another mode ... it all makes sense now.

(Yes, I've had several shots in my dominant arm. You get a buttload of shots before you go live in certain countries, and you can't take 'em all in one arm, or it'd pretty much die and fall off.)
posted by eritain at 8:43 PM on January 3, 2007

Ha! Fantastic. I get these too and now the mystery is solved. I thought I had been exposed to plutonium or something. Like the people in the other post, I get a kind of sick fascination from plucking them out, especially if they're a bit ingrown. Sometimes they'll feel like a stubborn zit until they grow out a bit and poke through the surface, so when they do, you're like, A-HA you little bastard! Glad I'm not irradiated after all.

Now let's talk about those mutant eyebrow hairs that aren't even the right color and are all thick and wild and crazy! I'm turning into my grandpa here. It'll be ear hair next. Oh God.
posted by kookoobirdz at 9:34 PM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Do you have moles? They might be mole-hairs.

I have moles, but not in the area where the weird whiskers are coming from.

I suspect these hairs are growing out of dermoid fistulas

But wouldn't you have symptoms of a dermoid cyst? You know, like a small, soft lump?

I did manage to find and pull some tonight and attempt to take a picture, but the shot didn't come out at all. But as I look at them, I notice that they're stiff as wire, very thick, and almost dripping in oil/sebum.

But they seem like a single hair, not a bunch of hairs matted together (or a pile-up of dead hairs).

If only I had a microscope....
posted by dw at 11:21 PM on January 3, 2007

My husband gets those multi-hairs on his chin and sometimes they have a sort of skin around them that makes them clump together and look like a single hair. Try scraping at the exterior with your nail.
posted by miss tea at 3:32 AM on January 4, 2007

Hilbilliy hairs: previously discussed here, here, and here.
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:50 AM on January 4, 2007

That's hillbilly, of course. Black gold. Texas tea.
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:51 AM on January 4, 2007

I suspect these hairs are growing out of dermoid fistulas

But wouldn't you have symptoms of a dermoid cyst? You know, like a small, soft lump?

Yes. On second thought, I got a little carried away by the romantic appeal of the dermoid cyst (and I mean that). More prosaically, but not much less grotesquely, I have hairs very much like your description growing in my nose. Do you think it's possible that some of your nose hair progenitor cells got their marching orders a little wrong and ended up on your chin?
posted by jamjam at 9:19 AM on January 4, 2007

jamjam, I wish I had never looked at your final link.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:07 PM on January 4, 2007

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