While many men who wear beards love them and would never even consider removing them, some experts are saying that the furry face accessory is in fact a bad thing as beards carry bacteria and could spread infection.
One such expert, consultant trichologist Carol Walker, warned that beards are a "bacterial sponge" and an effective way of passing on germs.
Her theory is based on the fact that beard hair is much coarser than normal hair and as such, dirt and germs are trapped and held far more easily in a long beard.
As Walker, from the Birmingham Trichology Center, told reporters...
Beard hair; it's coarser. It has the shape of a bayonet, a round, convexed bottom and then comes up the side to a point. It becomes curly and smooth, it tends to have more bends and kinks which trap dirt. The cuticles on the hair – which are like layers of tiles on a roof - trap the germs and grease. Hair around nostrils and mouth is well-placed to harbour bacteria.On top of that, she added, many men have a bad habit of over-touching their beards which can result in bacteria being spread to the mouth, "If their hands are dirty, they transfer dirt from their hands on to their face and mouths. If someone is eating dairy products it can get stuck in their beard and become a bit rancid," she said.
Another beard expert, Professor Hugh Pennington, an emeritus professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen, also concurred with Walker's theory, saying,
"It's the same bacteria that's on your skin. It's not problematic and it's not a health risk. The beard works as an insulator. If it's in the fold under the chin, the skin can be angry and red where they've sweat and the hair has trapped the dirt and bacteria."
And then there's Professor Anthony Hilton, head of biological and biomedical sciences at Aston University, who also has a big issue with beards. He was involved with a study into whether surgical masks caught bacteria falling from surgeons faces, and whether having a beard affected how many bacteria fell.
As Hilton said about that study, "What they found was that men with beards do harbour a significant number of bacteria, more than non-bearded men and women. And bearded surgeons wearing masks did shed more organisms from the beard outwards when they wiggled."
[Lead image via PhillyMag.]