Some women love them, & some hate them. They can be long or short, close-shaven or bushy, & men are usually extremely proud of them… BEARDS, people. We’re talking about beards.
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Many men are into the fully-grown look, but not everyone is a fan. While some men look really attractive with a big beard, it’s way less attractive when you have to point out the bits of food trapped in those scraggly hairs.
Well, here’s a dirty little secret about beards that may make you cringe, with an emphasis on “dirty”.
According to a recent study, men’s beards not only have bacteria in them, but half of the bacteria are microbes that are considered hazardous to human health. The beards also contained more bacteria than the necks of dogs tested in the same study.
Pass the razor, please!
The findings, which were reported by the Hirslanden Clinic of Switzerland, weren’t collected for the purpose of bashing men with beards, despite what some critics may think. The original intention of the research was to determine if there was a legitimate risk of humans picking up any dog-borne diseases from using an MRI scanner that was also used by veterinarians.
The study’s subjects consisted of swabs from the beards of 18 men and neck swabs from 30 dogs of various breeds following an MRI of each subject.
And the results?
As Professor Andreas Gutzeit of the Hirslanden Clinic shared when interviewed by The Daily Mail:
The researchers found a significantly higher bacterial load in specimens taken from the men’s beards compared with the dogs’ fur.
(Is it just me, or does the term “bacterial load” make it seem even more disgusting??)
Every single human beard sampled in the study contained high microbial counts.
That should be expected in a sense, since most surfaces on the human body (including hair & skin) possess natural bacterial microbes. But human beards apparently carry a “load” of it, since the study showed that only 23 of the 30 dogs tested has the same microbial amounts.
But the really nasty fact that emerged from the study: 7 of the men’s beards contained microbes that are hazardous to human health. The dogs, on the other hand, possessed “significantly” lower bacterial counts.
Or as Professor Gutzeit summarized it:
On the basis of these findings, dogs can be considered as clean compared with bearded men.
So the bottom line, according to this study: Dogs are less germy than men with beards. YUCK.
But before you recoil from your bearded partner in panic, it’s important to note that not everyone agrees with the implied disgust of this study’s results.
According to Keith Flett, founder of the Beard Liberation Front -yes, that is an actual thing- these findings are merely the latest in a series of publicity attempts to discriminate against beards. Flett shared his opinion on the matter with The Daily Mail:
I think it’s possible to find all sorts of unpleasant things if you took swabs from people’s hair and hands and then tested them.
I don’t believe that beards in themselves are unhygienic.
While there is definitely a grain of truth in what Flett points out (human hair & skin can yield all sorts of unpleasant, grimy germs), he chalks this research up to a classic case of beard-bashing:
There seems to be a constant stream of negative stories about beards that suggest it’s more about pogonophobia than anything else.