Love ‘em or hate ‘em, beards are here to stay. And now science is giving men another reason to shun the razor.
For a recent study in the Journal of Hospital Infection, scientists swabbed the faces of 408 male healthcare workers both with and without facial hair to see if beards were in fact the gross, bacteria-laden nests some have suggested. What they found was that clean shaven men actually carried more bacteria than those that were bearded.
“Overall, colonization is similar in male healthcare workers with and without facial hair; however, certain bacterial species were more prevalent in workers without facial hair.”
Not what you expected, right?
According to researchers, the increased presence of bacteria may be a result of actual shaving, which can cause microscopic abrasions to the skin, giving bacteria a place to live.
The next logical question was whether beards actually had the ability to do good as well as simply making some men look good.
The BBC decided to get to the bottom of this.
As part of the popular show, “Trust Me I’m A Doctor,” a random assortment of beards were swabbed and sent to Dr. Adam Roberts, a microbiologist based at University College London, to see if he could grow anything using the found bacteria.
“Adam managed to grow over 100 different bacteria from our beards… Far more interesting, in a few of the petri dishes he noticed that something was clearly killing the other bacteria.”
The “something” was a microbe, or what we now refer to as antibiotics.
“We see microbes as our enemy, but they clearly don’t see us that way. Down at their level bacteria and fungi spend their time competing with each other. They fight for food, resources and space. By doing so, over millennia, they have evolved some of the most sophisticated weapons known to microbe-kind – antibiotics.”
While more research on the subject still needs to be conducted, these findings may make you look at your bearded friends a little differently.