If you are a man who is conscious about grooming his facial hair, you’re more likely to spend some time in front of the mirror than other guys in your acquaintance.
Such dedication may cause you to notice some stranger areas with abnormal hair growth in your beard. A few areas of the beard may seem a bit denser than the rest. Or a particular hair may be significantly thicker and curlier. If you looked closer, you’d find that the hair is multiple hairs in one follicle. This condition is known as pili multigemini.
What is Pili Multigemini?
Pilli multigemini is a condition in which multiple hair shafts can be seen coming out of the same hair follicle. The word pilli multigemini comes from the Latin word pili, plural of pilus, which means hair, and multigemini refers to the presence of multiple shafts from a single hair canal.
Pili multigemini is a rare condition. It usually occurs in male facial hair. Multiple hairs in one follicle on children’s scalp have also been observed.
Usually, pilli multigemini is not a cause for concern, so it often goes unnoticed. It is thought that the harmless form of pili multigemini is much more common than is reported. Among common areas for multiple hairs in one follicle, the pubic area, stomach and back are also common.
Why Do I Have Multiple Hairs in One Follicle?
It is unknown what exactly causes multiple hairs in one follicle, but it is theorized that pili multigemini may occur due to genetic influence.
Pili multigemini is diagnosed visually upon observing a single hair follicle with two or more hair shafts protruding from it. On average, people having this disorder have 3-10 hairs per follicle. In very extreme cases, people have been known to have as many as 36 individual hair shafts in a single follicle. However, most cases are moderately severe, with 20 or fewer hairs in a single follicle.
Phases of Hair Growth
To understand pili multigemini in-depth, it is essential to know the phases of hair growth. The hair growth cycle consists of the following four phases:
1. Anagen Phase
The anagen phase is also known as the growing phase. It is the most extended phase of all four phases. It lasts around 2 to 6 years. During the anagen phase, your hair follicles begin to develop hair that they will eventually push out.
In the case of pili multigemini, the hair in the follicle splits into multiple shafts during the development phase. Each shaft becomes wrapped into its cuticle and results in the characteristic tufted hair from appearance.
For women having multiple hairs in one follicle, legs and stomach are common locations. In men suffering from numerous hairs in one follicle, the beard is usually the target location for this condition.
2. Catagen Phase
This phase is the transitional time of hair growth. The hair follicles begin to shrink in this phase, reducing hair growth. The hair also begins to separate from the base of the hair follicle but remains rooted in place as it grows further. It lasts around 10 weeks.
3. Telogen Phase
It is also known as the resting phase of the hair growth cycle. In this phase, hair is not growing but not falling out either. During this phase, new hair begins to grow in the hair follicles that released developed hair shafts during the previous catagen phase.
The catagen phase lasts around 3 months on average.
4. Exogen Phase
The exogen phase is also known as the shedding phase. This phase lasts about 2 to five months. It involves new hair from hair follicles pushing to take the place of older hair as it sheds.
What Are The Health Concerns Due to Pili Multigemini?
Although most cases of pili multigemini are of no reason to worry, they may cause problems in some cases.
If you’re noticing your pili multigemini, it may be due to itching around the area. This occurs when the occurrence of multiple hairs in a single follicle cause folliculitis to occur.
Folliculitis is the inflammation of the hair follicles caused by a blockage of the follicle by ingrown hairs or, in this case, multiple hairs in a single follicle. Folliculitis can cause an eventual infection of the follicle as well.
This condition causes painful bumps of acne and pustules that may leave behind scarring.
How Can You Treat Pili Multigemini?
If you are wondering how to get rid of multiple hairs in one follicle for aesthetic or medical reasons, several treatment options are available.
Plucking is seemingly the most accessible method among the three available. You can simply use a tweezer to pluck out clusters of pili multigemini. Plucking the hair damages the hair follicle and may reduce the number of hair shafts that develop the next time.
However, plucking is reported to be more painful for multiple hairs because these hairs are rooted deeper than normal hairs.
2. Laser Hair Removal
This method is used to damage hair follicles by using pulses of light. It causes an overall reduction in hair growth and thus decreases the chances of regrowth of pili multigemini.
The downside of laser hair removal is that it is slightly expensive and requires multiple sittings. But the downside is well worth the long break before hair grows back.
Electrolysis is a permanent and preferred method for removing hair, especially very light and blonde hair. This is because instead of damaging the follicle through melanin, hair follicles are directly and irreparably damaged by electric probes in electrolysis.
How Can You Prevent Pili Multigemini From Occurring?
As the cause for this condition is not confirmed, it is difficult to predict precisely what actions may put a definite stop to the occurrence of pili multigemini.
However, the American Academy of Dermatologists recommends these tips to reduce the chances of developing folliculitis in general:
- Shave only with wet skin and hair to prevent razor bumps from friction.
- Shave in your hair’s natural growth direction.
- Avoid using blunt or rusted razors.
- Dry your razor after using it to avoid bacterial growth.
Pili multigemini is a rare but harmless malformation of hair that causes multiple hair shafts to grow from one follicle. A few cases can cause itching and acne due to infected follicles.
Mostly such issues resolve on their own, but you should seek a doctor if you develop its severe form.