Not since the days of George Carlin’s famous Hair Poem have beards been so popular. They’re back in fashion again; although, there might be an unfortunate aspect to facial hair that the medical community is acknowledging in a rather public manner.
According to recent news reports, beard swab tests in New Mexico revealed that the subjects’ facial hair held a host of bacteria more commonly associated with urinary tract infections or rest rooms.
“I’m usually not that surprised; I was surprised by this,” notes Quest Diagnostics microbiologist John Golobic. “These are enterics, the kinds of things that you’d find in feces. It certainly shows a degree of uncleanliness that is somewhat disturbing.”
Not surprisingly, a face full of hair is simply capable of holding onto all sorts of bacteria longer than a face that is clean-shaven on a daily basis. Studies by the International Foundation for Dermatology and the journal Anaesthesia have documented problems with the spread of staphylococcus. Folliculitis, or infection of hair follicles, is common among bearded men.
However, there’s no need for panic. In spite of numerous studies showing that facial hair traps dirt and germs more easily, men can still enjoy their furry faces as long as they maintain excellent hygiene. Keeping a beard neatly trimmed, washing it regularly, and applying conditioner can all keep cleanliness at a fairly healthy level.
Golobic recommends a thorough beard scrubbing, as well as frequent hand washing, and adds, “Try to keep your hands away from your face as much as possible.”
So before you kiss that bearded dude, you might want to run him through a hot shower.