The Boys' Growing Up in the Lord

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Question

Please answer this quickly. I am in a teenage boy crisis. Hi, I am a 13.5 years-old teenage boy. Three or four weeks ago I got my first armpit hairs. Now they are long black hairs under my arm. My left armpit is beginning to be a full bush of hair now. I don't know what to do. Should I shave off my armpit hairs or should I keep them the way they are? Is this hair on my armpits normal? Please answer me as I really don't know what to do here. This question has been bothering me all day. I can't even concentrate on my homework from school because I don't know the answer.


Answer

I'm trying to figure out why having hair growing under your arm pits is bothering you. Surely you have seen men with hair under their arms before, since it appears in all nationalities. The amount varies, but the fact that it is there remains constant. So, yes, you are perfectly normal to have hair under your arm. It is just one more sign that your body is changing from being a child to being an adult.

There is no advantage to shaving your armpit hairs. Some people do so because they like the look of not having hair under their arms, but most men don't bother with shaving. Shaving the facial hairs is enough of a chore without adding other parts of the body along with it.

I guess I shouldn't shave my armpit. But I really thought that without armpit hair you would smell and look better. They say without armpit hair you smell thirty times less because there is less bacteria on your armpit. With armpit hair you smell thirty times worse.

When numbers are given without a source, I generally find that behind it is someone who is making up a fact but wants to make it sound more "real" by giving numbers. This gets spread from person to person, each never wondering why it is 30 times and not 25 times or 50 times.

Yes, without hair under your arms, you will have a slightly easier time cleaning your skin and thereby keeping the bacteria down. Just like if you shaved your head bald you would have an easier time keeping dandruff under control. Still, if you understand that you need to wash thoroughly under your arms, then you still can keep your skin clean. Treat it like your scalp -- apply soap, scrub it in with your finger tips to get it down to your skin, and then rinse thoroughly. It will only take a few seconds longer than if you had shaved your armpit hairs. Of course, the time needed to keep the armpit hairs shaved will be a bit longer, so in the end there really isn't any savings in time.

Antiperspirants also contain ingredients that inhibit bacteria growth. They work equally effectively whether hair is present or not. Actually shaving plus antiperspirants sometimes irritates the skin under the arm because shaving always leaves small nicks in the skin.

If you prefer the look of shaved armpits, then go ahead. There is not harm. I'm just pointing that doing so is solely for looks and not because there is a greater benefit.

I have another question for you. My right armpit is beginning to grow hair. Do you suppose that if I trim those hairs, will I have the same amount of hairs to trim the next time or will I have more to trim? Right now my left armpit is filled with hairs. Now if I shave them will the same amount of hair grow back at the next time or will it take the same amount of time as like the first time they grew?

Once a hair follicle on your body begins producing hair, it will continue for the rest of your life, unless illness causes it to stop. This doesn't include the hair on your head, which men commonly begin to lose as they get older.

So if you shave the hairs off under your arm, the same number of hairs will grow back. Now because you are still developing, you might find that more hairs follicles have started producing while you are waiting for the hairs to grow back. In other words you might see more hairs growing after shaving simply because you cut off the early hairs and the later ones are now catching up. They would have caught up anyway, but shaving will cause the lengths of each hair to be more even.

It sounds like your left armpit has most of the follicles going and your right armpit is still developing. That actually isn't unusual. We don't always develop evenly between our left and right halves.

As far as the speed of growth, you will notice the hairs sooner than when they first developed simply because the hairs will begin thicker. When a hair follicle first starts, the hair is very fine and almost colorless. As the production gets underway, the hair becomes larger in circumference and gets more pigment. When you cut off a hair, the follicle doesn't know it. It just keeps producing more hair, but since it is the thicker, darker kind you notice it quicker.

The natural length of the hair is controlled by the region of skin the hair follicle is working within. The follicles go through months of production and then pause for about a month and then start back up again. During the pause, the old hair breaks off. Thus the length of the growing cycle controls the overall length of your hair. The hair on your scalp have very long growing cycles, so your hair can grow very long on your head. The pubic hair under your arms and on your groin is the second longest cycle. Body, arms, and leg hair tends to be short.

Since each follicle starts at a different time, they cycle on and off independently and at different times. That is why you don't shed like an animal where whole sets of hair is lost at once. You only see the average over time.

Remember about my left armpit? Well, I kind of exaggerated of having a bush of hairs in there. I actually had a little, maybe a mediocre amount, but not that much. Well, it took me 6 months for the first time they grew. Then I trim them off for 6 months, and then recently it took me 2 months to have a moderate amount of hairs on my left armpit to grow back. But two weeks ago I pulled one of my armpit hairs out and it came out easily with no pain, then after one week later I pulled them all out very very easy with no pain. Then they started to fall off by themselves -- a lot fell off by themselves. Today I have no armpit hair . Why did my armpit hairs practically fell off by themselves after two months of rapid growth?

Hair grows in cycles. The length of the cycle depends on the region of your body. The hair on your scalp has very long cycles. The hair under your arms and on your groin has shorter cycles and the hair on your legs and arms have very short cycles. For people, each hair follicle is independent. It runs for a period of time growing hair and then it goes through a sleep cycle for about a month and then starts back up again. During the sleep cycle, the hair that had been growing breaks off or falls out. This is why you hair only reaches a particular length. By the time it gets to a certain length, it is time for the follicle to go to sleep, it breaks off and a new hair starts.

Since each follicle is independent, you don't shed like a dog or a cat. You just lose a hair here or there and in the midst of all the other hairs you don't notice the lose. To lose all them in an area is not normal. Have you lost hair elsewhere on your body? Extreme stress can cause this to happen, but it usually indicates there is something out of whack in your body. You should go and see a doctor who can check a number of things that I can't. It might be something as minor as your bouncing hormones just happened to knock all the hairs asleep at one time, or it can be something important, like you thyroid acting up.