How man came to be relatively naked is not an easy question to answer. Some people believe that it was caused by the habit of wearing clothes, living in hot houses, and other features of the civilized life. Perhaps, on the contrary, it was an evolutionary adaptation, and the explanation is exactly the opposite of the above onethat, in short, the lack of hair caused man to wear clothes, not that clothes caused the lack of hair.
Certainly in the prehistoric period of savage civilization, hair must have been necessary to the human animal, as to other animals, mostly for protection against cold. There are plenty of people who revert to this early animal stage, and who have a pretty thick growth of hair all over the body. We also see sometimes a bearded woman or a dog-faced boy, in which there is hair all over the face.
It is not surprising, therefore, that such things as superfluous hairs should occur. Perhaps it is more natural that they should occur than that they shouldn’t. Superfluous hairs, however, are no different from other kinds of hair. If you will study the anatomy and growth of hair as outlined in the first article this week, you will see that the removal of superfluous hair by ordinary means simply removes the top part and leaves the root in, and a new hair will grow in to take its place.
It is not necessarily true that the removal of hair by razor or other mechanical means will cause the succeeding hairs to grow in thicker. Probably the origin of this idea is that when a young boy begins to shave his beard gets thicker and coarser, but that simply follows the natural development of the hair on the face. It tends to get coarser as age advances. After a man has been shaving several years, repeated shavings do not make his beard grow in coarser.
There are several ways to remove superfluous hair. It would be very unfair to say that any one method is the best. In many cases, the use of a razor is probably as good as any. A German dermatologist recently came out flat-footedly and said that the best way was to make an application of 10 parts of hydrogen peroxide and 50 parts of alcohol, apply this on a towel over the superfluous hairs, and then rub them off with pumice stone.
For permanent removal, the root itself must be killed. Probably the only good safe method of removal is by electrolysis, which involves the use of a galvanic current with an electric needle.
Whether the x-ray should be used for permanent depilation or not is doubtful. It has been urged that it should be used in the abundant growth of fine, downy hair, which is difficult to treat with the electric needle. But, on the contrary, these fine, downy hairs are the ones which are most resistant to radiation. To remove hair permanently, the amount of x-ray exposure required is such that it often causes permanent changes in the skin itself.