The internet has been abuzz lately with news reports that men’s beards are full of bacteria that comes from feces. Many reputable news sites, including the Inquisitr, picked up the story and informed the masses that facial hair is a breading ground for all kinds of nasty micro-organisms, essentially making beards dirtier than a toilet.
But is any of it true? After some closer inspection, it seems the stories claiming beards contain poop are not quite as reliable as originally thought.
According to Snopes, the stories saying beards contain poop are flat out false. The original hype came from an Albuquerque news station called KOAT, wherein a single news person took a few swabs of men’s beards among a small handful of volunteers. The swabs were then sent to a microbiologist.
“Those are the types of things you’d find in faeces.”
According to the Guardian, that’s as far as the claim that beards contain poop go. A tiny sample on a single news show claimed that a few beards contain similar bacteria to that found in human feces. No large scientific study, no collection of consistent data, just one microbiologist who commented that some of the beards had lifeforms that tend to reside in human waste.
Slate dismantles the claim that beards contain poop even further by reminding readers that the human body contains inordinate amounts of bacteria. Much of the bacteria on our bodies is either completely harmless or necessary to our survival. So, to comment that one part of the body is riddled with germs is a practically meaningless statement. To truly determine that beards contain poop, scientists would need huge sample sizes from a wide range of test subjects. They would also need to determine if the fecal bacteria in beards is cause for alarm, because it would probably be harmless.
As the Washington Post reported, the original story doesn’t even suggest the volunteer beards contain poop itself, just bacteria.
“The problem with this is that bacteria known to associate poop is not necessarily literal poop. In fact it’s probably not. And saying that something is gross for being covered in bacteria is pretty ridiculous, because anything that exists in our physical realm is definitely going to be covered in bacteria.”
So, don’t worry about whether or not beards contain poop. They probably don’t. And if they do, it’s almost certainly harmless–or else you’re already covered in the same bacteria.
[Image credit Getty]