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Hair to stay

14 December 2011

Cancel your next waxing appointment – new research published in Royal Society journal Biology Letters has revealed that body hair is actually rather useful in defending us from nasty skin parasites such as bedbugs and fleas.

Scientists based at the University of Sheffield persuaded volunteers to have one armed shaved and the other left natural, before hungry bed bugs were placed on their skin.

The results showed that the insects had to search for longer to find somewhere to feed on people with hairier arms, which increased the chance of their being detected and removed before they could munch on their unfortunate hosts.

“Our findings show that more body hairs mean better detection of parasites,” said lead researcher Professor Michael Siva-Jothy. “The results have implications for understanding why we look the way we do, what selective forces might have driven us to look the way we do, and may even provide insight for better understanding of how to reduce biting insects' impact on humans”.