Beard is the new black. Granted beards have been a hot and sexy trend lately and growing a man’s face fur whether short and stubbly to incredible lengths to exude manliness and non-conformism for the purpose of hiding wrinkles, be in fashion or simply to avoid the monotony of shaving may, it turns out come at a heavy and smelly price. A beard swab test conducted by scientists and Quest Diagnostics revealed men’s facial hair contains more bacteria usually found than dogs carry in their fur.
It’s bad news for hipsters but men with beards harbor more germs, bacteria and fecal matter in their whiskers than dogs carry in their fur, scientists say.
The alarming news follows a study that found every sampled beard was crawling with bacteria, and nearly half had bugs that were hazardous to human health.
By contrast, a number of the dogs tested proved to have lower levels of microbes. Now men have been left bristling with fury, with claims that the results stem from pogonophobia – the irrational fear of beards.
In the study, scientists wanted to discover whether there was a risk that humans might pick up a dog-borne disease from an MRI scanner that was also used for examinations by vets.
Researchers took swabs from the beards of 18 men and the necks of 30 dogs, across a range of breeds, and compared the results.
Professor Andreas Gutzeit, of Switzerland’s Hirslanden Clinic, said: ‘The researchers found a significantly higher bacterial load in specimens taken from the men’s beards compared with the dogs’ fur.’
The study found all of the bearded men, aged from 18 to 76, showed high microbial counts, but only 23 out of 30 dogs had high counts. The remainder had moderate levels.
Seven men were even found to harbor microbes that posed a threat to human health.
After the MRI exams of the dogs, the scanners were disinfected and showed a ‘significantly’ lower bacteria count compared with levels seen when used by humans.
‘On the basis of these findings, dogs can be considered as clean compared with bearded men,’ said Dr Gutzeit.
But Keith Flett, founder of the Beard Liberation Front, which opposes discrimination against the hirsute, cast doubt on the report.
The popularity of facial hair has risen due to the trend of the hipster beard. This has led to a decline in the use of shaving products and an increase in men sporting facial hair, especially among the younger crowd.
A recent Simmons National Consumer Study estimates 17 percent of all men and 35 percent of young men ages 18 to 24 have facial hair today. This is up from 14 percent and 31 percent, respectively, since 2009.
Whether it’s groomed like Brad Pitt or unkempt like Bon Iver, men from all walks of life have grown out their face fur and have even undergone facial hair transplants in record numbers, but at what cost?
As scruff is in and men now shave less, Action 7 News decided to recruit a handful of brave men and swab their beards to examine how much bacteria they harbor. Several of the beards that were tested contained a lot of normal bacteria, but some were comparable to toilets.
Quest Diagnostics microbiologist John Golobic tested the swabs and admitted the results were surprising.
“I’m usually not surprised, and I was surprised by this. Those are the types of things you’d find in These findings are not just limited to the scruffy men of Albuquerque. Previous studies have found beards harbor more bacteria than clean-shaven faces.
They echo the results of a 1967 study where scientists sprayed bearded and clean-shaven men with bacteria, and then collected the bacteria from their faces by swabbing, stroking, and imprinting.
The scientists concluded more bacteria was found in general in the faces of bearded men, suggesting beards trap dirt and germs more easily.
This can lead to skin infections and the spread of bugs, such as staphylococcus, which causes hair follicle bacterial infections. Folliculitis, a superficial infection of single hair follicles, according to the International Foundation for Dermatology, often appears in groups in areas of hair-bearing sites, like the beard or lower legs.
Antiseptic soaps and topical/oral therapy can help with the treatment of these tiny pustules.
A more recent study published in the journal Anesthesia also found bearded men who wore surgical masks shed significantly more bacteria in the area below their lips, especially if they move their masks around compared to clean-shaven men.
The researchers recommended bearded surgeons try not to wiggle their face masks. They also suggested, “Bearded males may also consider removing their beards.”
Beard bacteria has the ability to be transmitted to the mouth and cause illness. It can also be transmitted to others, especially since viruses can be passed on from person to person via contact.
A beard would be a focal point for this type of transmission.
Despite the numerous studies, there’s no need to ditch the beard if you maintain good hygiene.
Proper maintenance, such as washing it regularly and using conditioner, can help upkeep its cleanliness. Bearded men, wear your beard fuzzy, long, and proud — as long as you sanitize it on the regular.
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