Have you ever wondered why hair grows on some parts of your body grow and not in other areas? The soles of your feet and the palms of your hands don’t have hair, for instance, while your arms and legs seem to have no problem sprouting new growth.
That’s because of a chemical known as D-K-K-2 that is emitted in skin as it grows in certain parts of the body. This chemical effectively blocks another chemical signal that causes the development of hair follicles.
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania examined skin from the bottom of mice feet – the mice’s plantar skin, that is – and found high levels of D-K-K-2. When they genetically engineered the plantar skin to grow without D-K-K-2, hair did grow in these traditionally hairless areas.
Understanding the chemicals that help control hair growth allows scientists to investigate other scenarios in which humans have areas of hairless skin, areas such as a scar that develops after serious injury. If D-K-K-2 or similar chemicals are responsible for lack of hair in scars, perhaps science can find a way for people who have undergone traumatic injuries or burns to regrow some of the hair they thought was gone forever.
Some scientists are even looking at this latest finding as a potential key to understanding hereditary hair loss, which many people face as they age. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, approximately 80 million adults in the United States experience this condition.
It’s too early to predict what scientists might achieve with a more research, but the possibilities seem positively hair-raising!