The hair in your nose works like an air filter for your lungs, trapping dirt, pollen, dust, and some pathogens. But when the hair in your nose grows thick and long, you might feel uncomfortable or self-conscious about it.

Let’s cover what your nose hairs do, as well as discuss safe methods of trimming the nose hair that you don’t want.

Aging is the most common cause of nose hair that grows long and thick. That’s because your hair follicles, even the ones in your nose, grow in cycles.

As you grow older, your hair follicles may develop what’s called “anagen sensitivity.”

That means that the follicles become more sensitive to the hormones in your body. Exposure to hormones in your body can then prolong the growth phase of the hair follicles so that they grow longer and more coarse.

You may be more or less prone to having long nose hair depending on your family history. Men are more prone to having nose hairs that grow long.

Having long or thick nose hair isn’t always a bad thing.

Nose hair serves an important purpose. These hairs catch dust and debris in the air that would otherwise become trapped in your upper nasal passages.

Mucus in your nose lubricates your nose hairs. Since the hair is typically lubricated, it also attracts and traps pathogens to keep you from getting sick.

If you have seasonal inflammation in your nose due to allergies, having dense nose hair may even protect you from developing asthma, according to a small 2011 study.

There aren’t any medical drawbacks to having long nose hair.

Some people don’t like the way that long nose hair looks. Because of the association with aging, long nose hair may make you feel like you look older than you are.

You may also feel like your long nose hairs collect dried mucus and other debris, making hygiene a bit more difficult.

Removing your nose hair is a personal choice that should be made based on your own preference. It isn’t a medical condition and it doesn’t indicate that there’s an underlying reason for concern.

If you want to remove nose hair safely, trimming is recommended as the safest option. You can use a small safety scissor or a nose-hair attachment on an electric trimmer.

Some people opt for laser hair removal or waxing the hair from their nose. Generally speaking, these methods may damage your mucus membrane and may keep nose hair from being able to do its job.

These methods can also lead to ingrown nose hairs and infection, so proceed with caution.

What not to do

Take plucking your nose hair off of your list of things to try.

Plucking your nose hair is never recommended. At the base of every nose hair are a host of pathogens. When you pluck a nose hair, you’re causing damage to the skin inside your nose and also shaking those pathogens loose.

This can result in nasal vestibulitis, an infection in your nasal cavity. In a small study with 118 participants, 14 percent of people with nasal vestibulitis said that they plucked their nose hairs.

Infections in your nasal cavity can lead to serious complications, such as cavernous sinus thrombosis.

There isn’t a medical treatment that doctors typically recommend.

If you’re concerned about the way that your nose hair impacts your appearance, you may want to bring it up to a primary care physician or dermatologist to see if they have any recommendations.

If you’re prone to allergies and inflammation and find that your nose hair makes treatment more difficult, you may want to have the conversation with an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist, or an allergist.

Long nose hair isn’t a medical problem. In fact, it may help protect your body from dust and pathogens.

If you aren’t happy with the way that your nose hair looks, you may want to look into a nose trimmer or an electric hair trimmer with a nostril attachment to carefully trim back the hair. A small safety scissor may also work.

Don’t try to pluck the hair out. This can put you at risk for an infection or other serious side effects.