Due to unknown reasons resulting in a fluke DNA mutation, with an incredibly low probability, a 'human' baby is born who is not quite human, the mutation being that the hairs are mildly toxic. This was found by their parent(s) or carer(s). The follicles are slightly sharper than standard human hairs which can pierce skin, and the toxin can cause temporary paralysis. If our toxic-haired person (hereafter Alice) rubbed against someone long enough, the person would die.

Presuming that Alice (perhaps due to the intervention of human rights groups) is able to avoid being secluded in a research laboratory for most of her life, how would this affect her everyday life?

Clarification: Yes, the venom is in the tip.

  • $\begingroup$ Can Alice be affected by her own hair? $\endgroup$
    – user7076
    Aug 20, 2017 at 10:19
  • $\begingroup$ Don't worry. You can still edit your question if it is closed. Putting questions on hold or closing them is a signal that a question needs improvement. It will then be voted on to have it reopened. If the first edit doesn't work, more improvement and editing is needed. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Aug 20, 2017 at 13:32
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    $\begingroup$ All the hair, or only the hair on Alice's head? Humans have hair all over the body, after all. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Aug 20, 2017 at 16:13
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    $\begingroup$ Follicles are not blades. How can they be sharp? $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Aug 20, 2017 at 18:42
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    $\begingroup$ How did she/someone find out about the toxic hair? If she killed several people as a child, this will change her everyday life significantly. Btw, why doesn't she just remove that hair? You got an upvote from me for having the craziest premise I've seen here on WB so far. $\endgroup$
    – Raditz_35
    Aug 21, 2017 at 8:19

3 Answers 3


There are a few things that have a large effect on this question. First is the toxicity of the hair. In your question, it seemed to be pretty severe, starting with paralysis and ending with death. Second is our ability to diagnose and treat this toxin. Is it something we know about? Is it something we can treat easily and successfully? If this is not the case, then I will need to change my answer.


Her mother will either die before she could be born, or she will become very sick, have an abortion, and possibly survive. Babies have hair at least as early as the 16th week of gestation, and many of the body's defenses would already have been bypassed. Her mother would become sick a few months after becoming pregnant, and would likely die before the doctors could identify the problem, identify the toxin, acquire the antidote/treat it, and induce an abortion.

Alternate Result

Perhaps you can find a way to set it so that she does not exhibit this phenomena until she is born. Then, it is likely that she will survive. Again, depending on how discoverable, dangerous, and treatable this toxin is, she may kill her mother, father, nursemaid, and any other number of people.

However, it would be relatively easy to avoid that, as a storyteller. Her mother takes sick while still in the hospital, after holding her newborn child. When the hospital notices that everyone who has come into extended contact with the baby is falling ill, they may isolate the child, much in the way that preemies are isolated, but for the opposite reason. It would be difficult to raise a child in this manner, and would necessitate certain unfortunate precautions such as limited physical contact or the removal of most hair.

Your character would likely never be able to grow her hair out. Hair is shed naturally by humans, and hair particulate can still escape from hair that "up", in a hair net, etc. This loose hair could bother someone, cause substantial harm when inhaled, or kill an asthmatic child or elderly person.

However, she could and should live a normal life by shaving her head and managing the rest of her hair, either through covering it with clothing or removing it through normal techniques. She should shave her hair regularly (daily? maybe, maybe not), using a shaving tool and a vacuum attachment and then safely disposing of her hair.


Given that she does not exhibit hair toxicity in utero, then it is certainly possible that she lives a life that is long and rewarding for her. She will grow up with this limitation, which may cause the parents stress and make for a difficult childhood depending on her temperment (up to you) and living situation, but she can live a long and rewarding life, competing in sports and the arts, going to high school and college, finding a normal job and working, dating and getting married, the whole nine yards.

Or she could run away from her parents at age 16 and slip between the cracks, living as a runaway in a major city, growing her hair out in rebellion from a life she didn't choose, leaving in her wake a trail of quiet death from respiratory failure. The choice is up to you, but I hope for her sake she is happy.

  • $\begingroup$ Also worth noting: if her family has the money for it, electrolysis is a thing. $\endgroup$
    – Ben Barden
    Sep 11, 2017 at 21:13

As always much depends on details.

If, as OP seems to imply, but does not state, the venomous part is the tip of the hair, which needs to pierce skin to inject poison then cutting hairs short would actually worsen the problem.

In this case letting hairs grow longish and tying them in a tight braid, possibly with a cuff to cover the dangerous tips, would be a better solution.

In any case I see problems washing the hairs as the bearer is presumably immune to his own venom, but probably not to skin-piercing tips (not to speak about parents of him/her as a small child; gloves are a must... if they didn't die before recognizing the problem, of course).

  • $\begingroup$ One would imagine that 'skin piercing tips' are like those of a stinging nettle - if you didn't notice the toxin, then you probably won't even notice them penetrating the skin. $\endgroup$ Aug 20, 2017 at 17:32
  • $\begingroup$ @MattBowyer: OP says: "The follicles are slightly sharper than standard human hairs which can pierce skin, ...", I read this to mean hair itself pierces the skin... and hairs are much larger than nettle trichomes; they would leave visible and probably nasty scratches. ... but I may be wrong. OP is not very explicit. $\endgroup$
    – ZioByte
    Aug 20, 2017 at 17:40
  • $\begingroup$ Possibly, but I'd imagine that they would then also need to be much stiffer than a normal human hair too $\endgroup$ Aug 21, 2017 at 14:53

I'm pretty sure she would cut her hair at the very least once a weak, in order to be/stay bald. Not only that she doesn't bother others, but to avoid

being secluded in a research laboratory for most of her life.

The risk of that happening just by bad luck is too high.

And then she would wear a wig.

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    $\begingroup$ Alice could wear a hat like the hair nets worn by medical personnel and made of stronger material to keep any hair contained. This serves the same function as the wig, but without frequent hair cuts or having to shave her head. There laws against secluding people in research laboratories. It's also unethical. Real scientists would only need to take samples and analyze them. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Aug 20, 2017 at 13:25
  • $\begingroup$ @a4android - wouldn't be to sure about the samples part. We have over 7 billion humans on earth and several times more in the past. Suddenly Alice appears, with characteristics unlike everyone elses. I'd guess scientists would come up with hundred tot thousand of tests to check, if she differs in other aspects as well. Some hairs and drops of blood wouldn't cut it then. $\endgroup$ Aug 21, 2017 at 7:08

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