Rapid changes in temperature trigger them, but now researchers believe goosebumps may serve another purpose as well - the regeneration of hair growth, IFLScience.com reports.
According to a new study, Harvard University scientists determined that “the cell types that cause goosebumps are also important for regulating the stem cells that regenerate the hair follicle and hair,” according to a statement. When the muscle underneath the skin contracts to create the goosebump serves as a bridge between the sympathetic nerve connection and the hair follicle stem cells.
“It’s a two-layer response: goosebumps are a quick way to provide some sort of relief in the short term. But when the cold lasts, this becomes a nice mechanism for the stem cells to know it’s maybe time to regenerate new hair coat,” Yulia Shwartz, postdoctoral fellow at Harvard and co-first author of the study said. Upon further investigation, Shwartz and her colleagues realized if the aforementioned contraction didn’t occur, the hair regeneration process didn’t take place. “The trio of nerve, muscle and hair follicle stem cells are caught in a complex relationship that results in goosebumps and hair growth,” Katy Pallister writes.
Shwartz and the team plan to continue their research into how the external environment may influence other stem cells in the skin. Read the full study in Cell.