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Many people may have noticed that in some areas of their bodies, be it the face, chest, abdomen, arms or legs, thick, long, white hairs are present.

A lot of theories as to what these strands or hairs are, where they come from, and why they are thicker and longer than the other normal coloured hairs.

The best explanation as to what these hairs are and why they develop is due to genetic mutations that occur in certain hair follicles.

The genetic mutations of the hair follicles affect two important cells in the skin, the melanocytes (that produce melanin which gives hair its colour) and the keratinocytes (that produce keratin which is what hair is composed of). The melanocytes end up producing less melanin which is the reason why the hairs become white and the keratinocytes produce more keratin which is the reason why the hair grows longer and thicker than others do. 

These mutations occur randomly across the body and there are at most a few hair follicles that are affected. Most people end up plucking out these hairs which usually results in the hair follicle also being plucked out and that is the end of the story as there won't be any more thick and white hairs produced from that structure.

The presence of these white hairs should not be regarded as precursors for other malignant lesions on the skin or as increasing the chances of developing any autoimmune conditions such as vitiligo where melanocytes are damaged by antibodies produced by the body's immune system.

Morgellons

One of the theories that were eluded to at the beginning of the article is a self-diagnosed skin condition known as Morgellons where the affected individuals believe that sores on their skin contain some or other kind of fibres.

The condition is thought to actually be a form of delusional parasitosis, where the affected person believes that bugs or mites are crawling on or under their skin and that fibres are plucked out from the affected areas.

In a study conducted by the CDC, the findings stated that the sores were due to the patients scratching themselves and the fibres consisted of cotton that most probably came from the affected individuals' clothes.

A lot of people end up diagnosing Morgellons based on the information that is found on the Internet and find confirmation of the condition and support from others who share the same beliefs.

In 2008, an article in the Washington Post reported that these Internet discussions led to numerous conspiracy theories that nanotechnology, biological warfare, chemtrails, and even extraterrestrial life were factors responsible for the development of the condition.

Another condition that was linked to Morgellons due to the attention the condition received in popular culture was chronic Lyme disease.

Conclusion

The saying "common things occur commonly" comes to mind here. Our minds like to look for extraordinary explanations for issues we may not understand but in the case of long, thick white hairs appearing on our skins, there are factors causing this that can be adequately explained. 

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