New research suggests that selective plucking may make sparse hair grow back thicker. In a study published Thursday in Cell, scientists inspired new hair growth in mice by yanking specific hairs out.

That's because the trauma of a plucked hair elicits an immune response that extends to surrounding follicles, making them more prolific for a time.

Because the method relies on one follicle's distress signal giving another a boost, the pattern of plucking was important: When the researchers plucked 200 hairs from a 6 mm space on the mouse's back, none of the hair grew back. But when they took the same number of hairs from a 5 mm space, they got a massive return on their investment: About 1,300 hairs grew to replace the plucked 200. The distressed follicles were close enough to each other that their combined distress calls reached a threshold to receive an immune response. And once it came, all of the follicles stuck between them and close to them benefited, too.

The researchers haven't offered up any suggestions for how this might be used on humans, though they hope it can be adapted to treat baldness. Just don't go at your scalp with a pair of tweezers until a doctor gives you the thumbs up, okay?

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