Research Shows Beards Are Good For Health. Shaving... Not So Good
Categories: Health & Nutrition
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, beards are in.
From Father John Misty to Leonardo DiCaprio and that creepily mature-looking 15-year-old that hangs out at the back of every high school classroom, beards can be seen on the faces of just about every male capable of growing one.
So with that in mind, you can imagine the collective stink that was raised when this video went viral, landing itself on the Facebook timelines of nearly everyone with friends who just love to ruin everything.
Indeed, this news is a nightmare for everyone from the 17-year-old using the age-masking abilities of his beard for buying alcohol to the groupies on the latest ZZ Top tour.
But is it true?
“It is on the Internet, so it must be,” you might be thinking.
But actually, you might be surprised to learn that people without facial hair are more likely to carry filth on their faces than those with a glorious mane.
A more scientific study was recently conducted and published in the Journal of Hospital Infection. 408 hospital staff – some with beards, some without – had their faces swabbed and it was discovered that the less hairy fellows were three times as likely to have a bacteria known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus on their cheeks.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus is responsible for many, many cases of infection in settings such as nursing homes and hospitals, according to the Mayo Clinic. The bacteria are resistant to many forms of antibiotics.
So what gives, you ask? Why do the shaven among us harbor these bacteria?
If you’ve ever shaved, you are familiar with the burning sensation that you get when you lather on the aftershave.
This happens because shaving causes many micro-abrasions in your skin that harbor bacteria and encourage that bacteria to colonize and proliferate, as stated by researchers of the study say.
However, there’s another theory as to why the bearded participants in the study had fewer bacteria on their faces:
Beards kick harmful bacteria butt.
The BBC swabbed the beards of several men and sent the swabs off to Dr. Adam Roberts, a microbiologist at University College London.
He found that in a few of the Petri dishes collected, something was clearly slaughtering the harmful bacteria.
What was it? A microbe.
Microbes have evolved over time into some of the most sophisticated biological weapons of bacteria destruction out there – antibiotics, of which penicillin is a part.
Although Dr. Roberts is cautious about definitively singing the praises of beard bacteria, he says this could very possibly be the answer.
As if you needed any more of an excuse.
And oh, about that poop.
That viral video, the one that you saw 50 million times on your Facebook feed a few weeks ago, was – surprise, surprise – just a little clickbait-y.
What those researchers found wasn’t actually poop; it was simply the same bacteria that can be found in your fecal matter. This bacteria exists on everything from your skin to various plants and foods.
So keep on rockin’ those gnarly manes. At their best, they kick bacteria to the curb. At their worst, they’ve got some super-common bacteria hanging out in ’em.