Do Beards Contain “Healthy” Bacteria?

By: Matt Weik

Beards are in style these days and it seems people young and old are into the trend—some old guys probably haven’t even got a clue that they are “hip” now. Has anyone ever wondered if there are health benefits associated with beards?  Believe it or not, a new study might actually make you want to throw your razor away!

What’s lurking in your facial hair?

Sure, there might be a little bit of lunch in that beard, but so what? We’re keeping it for when we’re hungry later.  But in all seriousness, what if the things we are storing in our beard bring health benefits?  A recent study might shed some light on the benefits.

London researchers gathered a group of bearded men (not sexist researchers, they just couldn’t find any bearded ladies over there), and swabbed their beards trying to find what lurks within. What they found was that there were over 100 species of bacteria in the participants’ beards.  I know what you’re thinking—GROSS.  But wait… there’s more.  Because bacteria needs space and food, they actually produce antibodies.  Yup, the same things on your insides that keep you healthy and fight off illnesses.

So what does this mean? It means that if you don a beard, you’re actually carrying bacteria that is helping to keep you healthy and ward off infections by killing off pathogens that enter through the air via your nose or mouth. Your facial hair actually acts as a filter to keep pathogens out.

Healthcare workers not so healthy?

We have all been to the doctor’s office or a hospital. Some of us might have some interesting stories that go along with those visits.  But what if I were to tell you that those doctors and nurses might be carrying bacteria that can do you harm.  What?!  But they are supposed to be sanitary!  Even worse, you might be carrying it as well.  It will make you rethink those clean-shaved pretty-boy faces of the healthcare practitioners.  But don’t worry, they have tons of antibiotics they can prescribe to you.

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The Journal of Hospital Infection did a study on the beards of 408 healthcare workers.  They took a group of participants with and without facial hair and swabbed them looking for pathogens.  What they found was the group of healthcare workers that didn’t have facial hair carried more germs than those who had beards.  To their surprise, they also found that those who shaved actually were more likely to be carrying MRSA.  The researchers believe that it’s due to the act of shaving where guys are actually creating abrasions on their skin, causing bacteria to form.  Professionals today don’t necessarily feel having a beard is the right look.  But as science shows, they might be opening themselves up for sickness by not rocking a beard.

My bearded friends unite! Beards aren’t just for lazy guys and hipsters!  We now have scientific proof that our beards not only make us healthier, but they also make us look better than those who shave too!  Ok, that last part isn’t scientific at all.  Now throw away your razor and let the growth and health benefits commence!

Get More Research Spotlights at the IML Research Blog!