“Human beings have hair follicles all over their body,” says Constance Chen, MD, a plastic surgeon who holds clinical assistant professorships at Weill Cornell Medical College and Tulane University School of Medicine. “[And] the purpose of those hair follicles is to grow hair.”
In fact, that’s what those tiny bumps around your nipples are: hair follicles.
This is why our bodies are naturally covered in hair. Some of that hair is thin and almost transparent, kind of like peach fuzz; some of it is thicker, longer, or coarser.
Sometimes wiry hairs pop up alone on different parts of our bodies, like your chin or — you guessed it — your boobs.
Usually boob hair is actually hair on your areolae (that pigmented circles around your nipple), but it’s possible to have hair elsewhere on your chest, too.
Yes, it’s true that not everyone has noticeable hair on their boobs, but it’s totally normal to have it if you do.
It’s just hard to know for certain how many people have boob hair, because people are often too embarrassed to report it to their doctors. But most doctors and experts agree that it’s pretty common.
No one is exactly sure. Honestly, no one is completely sure what the purpose of any human body hair is.
It’s possible that the hair around your nipples might be left over from when humans needed body hair to help regulate their body temperature.
But, according to Chen, the hair doesn’t seem to serve any real purpose right now. It’s just there.
Hair around the areolae tends to be black and wiry, but it can vary from person to person.
“The thickness and texture of hair on the breast varies based on the individual, similar to facial and body hair,” explains Rina Allawh, MD, a dermatologist with Montgomery Dermatology LLC.
“In general, breast hair initially presents as fine, thin hair, and then with age and hormonal changes, [it] may begin to grow thicker and coarser,” Allawh says.
“Hair thickness may vary based on ethnicity and skin type,” Allawh continues. “For example, darker skin types are more likely to have thicker breast hair than fairer skin types.”
Like pubic hair, though, breast hair might not be like hair elsewhere on your body.
How much hair you have on your boobs can change over your lifetime.
For example, hair might show up on your breasts for the first time when you go through puberty. But it’s also completely normal to only just notice hair around your nipples as you get older, too.
That’s because, according to Chen, hormonal fluctuations like pregnancy or menopause can cause the hair around areolae to darken, making it more visible, or cause additional hair growth to occur.
During pregnancy, for example, there’s a surge in estrogen levels. This helps promote and prolong what’s called the anagen, or hair growth phase.
“[This] not only affects the hair growth on your scalp but also body hair, including breast and areola hair,” Allawh says. “So for those expecting, do not be alarmed if you notice thicker or longer breast hair!”
Just like the hair on the top of your head might seem thicker and longer than normal, your breast hair might, too.
Generally, hair on your boobs isn’t much cause for concern unless it’s accompanied by some other symptoms.
If you do have other symptoms, then an underlying condition might be causing the hair growth, such as elevated male hormones, notably testosterone.
This is called hirsutism. It’s a common characteristic of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition that results from an imbalance of reproductive hormones. PCOS affects
However, it’s rare for hair on your boobs to be the only symptom of PCOS. Other symptoms include:
- change or absence of menstrual periods
- increased oily skin or acne
- hair loss on your head
- increased hair growth in other places on your body, like your face
- difficulty losing weight
Another possible underlying condition is Cushing syndrome. Allawh says other symptoms of this condition can include:
- high blood pressure
- red or round face
- easy bruising
- stretch marks
- mood changes
- muscle weakness
- pads of fat on the chest, upper back, neck, and abdomen
Allawh adds that sometimes certain medications, including oral steroids, testosterone, and some immunotherapy medications, can cause excess hair on the breasts, too.
If you’re worried about the hair on your boobs or experiencing any of the above symptoms, talk to your doctor. They can determine whether something more serious is going on.
That way, if PCOS or another underlying condition is causing your boob hair, they can help you treat it with birth control or other medications to prevent excessive hair growth.
Don’t worry about it. It’s totally fine to leave it alone!
No one said your boobs have to be completely smooth. Your breasts are as unique as you are — and it’s totally normal to love them the way they are.
No one should make you feel like you have to do anything about the hair, especially if you don’t have any other symptoms.
“It’s fine to remove the hair if it bothers you,” Chen says, “but you should be careful around the delicate skin of the breast to not cause cuts, infections, or ingrown hairs.”
The best and most risk-free way to remove boob hair is by plucking it with tweezers, just like you might pluck your eyebrows. You can wax them, too — some salons will offer nipple waxing treatments — but be prepared: It might hurt.
It’s best to not try shaving your breast hairs, though, because it’s easy to cut yourself or irritate the delicate skin on your breasts. You also run the risk of ingrown hairs and infections.
What not to do
Whatever you do, don’t use Nair or other depilatory products on your boobs. They can cause swelling, infections, rashes, and a bunch of other unpleasant side effects on your boobs.
If you have a lot of hair to pluck (or it hurts too much), talk with a dermatologist about longer-term solutions, such as laser hair removal.
This procedure involves inserting a needle into the hair follicle and using an electric current to destroy the hair root.
You’re not weird for having hair on your breasts. It’s actually pretty common and normal. It’s also rarely the sign of an underlying medical problem, so unless you’re experiencing other symptoms, you don’t need to fret about the hair.
If it doesn’t bother you, you really don’t need to do anything about it unless you want to.
Simone M. Scully is a writer who loves writing about all things health and science. Find Simone on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.