Can it make you sick?

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Still worrying about the 2015 viral experiment claiming that beards contain more feces and bacteria than toilet seats?

You may not have as much to worry about as you think. This “study,” according to Snopes, was not a real research study. It had more to do with tabloid headlines than science.

Yes, beards can harbor bacteria, but clean-shaven skin can too. Also, not all bacteria pose a threat to your health.

Just as you wash the skin on your face, hands, or buttocks to keep it clean and free of harmful bacteria, you’ll also want to practice good hygiene by keeping your beard clean.

Read on to learn more about how beards can get dirty, as well as some tips on good beard hygiene.

The infamous 2015 “study” claimed that beards were dirtier than toilets. Another small study published in 2018 suggested that beards were dirtier than dogs.

But don’t take the mower out yet.

A 2014 study analyzed samples from 409 hospital workers, divided into two groups based on their facial hair. Those in the facial hair group, most of whom had beards, were less likely to harbor bacteria than their clean-shaven counterparts.

The researchers suggested that the reason could be micro-trauma to the skin caused by shaving. Tiny abrasions on the skin that occur when you shave can harbor and grow bacteria, which can potentially lead to infection.

What does all this mean? In a nutshell, no significant evidence suggests that beards are inherently dirty.

A dirty beard can make you sick if bacteria thrive in your beard, such as Staphylococcus and Enterococcusenter the bloodstream through a cut or other opening, says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Anna Chacon.

To put it simply, you probably won’t get sick just from sporting a dirty beard or rubbing near a beard.

Letting his beard get dirty is not a good idea, of course. All the same, you encounter bacteria all day long. Even potentially harmful strains won’t make you sick unless they manage to find their way into your body.

For this reason, Chacon recommends periodically checking your skin for hidden cuts and sores that can open the way for bacteria. She also recommends practicing good hand hygiene, which can, of course, limit the spread of germs and reduce the risk of infection.

Most people touch their face quite often. According to a 2015 studypeople touch their faces about 23 times per hour.

Although no research specifically explores how often people touch their beards, researchers have found that people most often touch their hair, cheeks, mouth and chin – all close places. of your beard area.

Does a beard increase the risk of COVID-19?

A beard may not directly increase your risk of contracting the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, or any other virus, for that matter. But your beard box make any mask you wear less effective, reducing your protection against coronavirus.

Research from 2020 suggests that facial hair may affect respirator fit. The more facial hair you have, the less adequate the fit. Without a good seal, respiratory protection decreases.

It doesn’t just make you more susceptible to viruses. It can also leave you vulnerable to harmful gases, particles, and vapors, something to keep in mind if you work in an occupation that requires you to wear a properly fitted respirator.

Whether you’re rocking a tidy goatee or a long, bushy beard, keeping your facial hair clean is important — for aesthetic reasons as well as for health reasons.

Sweat, pollutants like dust and pollen, and food can easily accumulate on your beard, making it less good and even less smelly. And that’s before we consider the potential health impact of a dirty beard.

We’ve already discussed the potential for infection if bacteria enter your bloodstream through an opening in your skin. But also remember that when you don’t wash your beard, the skin underneath doesn’t get clean either. Over time, this can lead to:

All of the above can increase the likelihood of skin breakouts.

Not sure where to start to keep your beard clean?

Chacon recommends washing your beard two to three times a week with shampoo and using a wide-tooth comb regularly. Remember to check your skin from time to time for cuts and sores.

Some other beard care tips to consider:

  • Choose a gentle beard shampoo or wash designed for your skin type.
  • Wash your beard more often, even daily, if you sweat a lot or come into contact with dirt or other contaminants.
  • Moisturize your beard to soften the hairs so they are less likely to irritate your skin.
  • Change your razor blade regularly. Try replacing the blade every five to seven shaves.
  • Keep your grooming tools in good working order by cleaning, drying and storing them properly. Follow all instructions provided by the manufacturer.

Find more do’s and don’ts for grooming your beard here.

No, your beard probably isn’t as dirty as your toilet seat. Even so, it never hurts to put some effort into keeping it clean.

Regular washing and brushing doesn’t just help keep your beard feeling fresh and fresh. They also go a long way in preventing the buildup of dirt and germs.


Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a Canada-based freelance writer and writer who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for over a decade. When she’s not cooped up in her writing shed looking for an article or interviewing medical professionals, she can be found frolicking around her seaside town with her husband and his dogs or wading on the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board.

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