Beards are fashionable these days, but there’s stuff lurking in them that can make you sick, a new study found.
The study was published in the journal European Radiology. Researchers took samples from the beards of men and the fur of dogs. They were looking for any dangerous bacteria. They wanted to see if it was safe for people to use the same MRI scanners that dogs are sometimes scanned in.[i]
Most veterinarians can’t afford to own MRI scanners. So pet MRI scans are often done at facilities for humans.
But it was the dogs’ safety they should have been concerned about. Men’s beards turned out to carry more infectious microbes than the dog fur. Human subjects had what researchers called a “high level” of beard contamination. But many of the dogs were at medium to low levels.
Professor Andreas Gutzeit was the study author. He said that some of the germs found on the human subjects were life-threatening. These included Enterococcus faecalis, which is known to cause infections in humans. Also Staphylococcus aureus. It’s a bacteria that may live on up to 50% of all human adults. It can cause serious illness if it enters the bloodstream.
“On the basis of these findings, dogs can be considered clean compared with bearded men,” he said.[ii]
Beard Hygiene 101
How can a man keep his beard from being a germ magnet? Men may not realize it, but beard hair needs to be washed just like head hair. That’s what the study authors recommend.
But use a shampoo or beard product labeled “antibacterial.” It likely contains a chemical called triclosan. Triclosan can disrupt hormones. And it’s linked to infertility, obesity, and cancer.[iii]
The FDA banned triclosan from household antibacterial soaps in 2016. But it can still be legally used in a wide variety of products. That includes certain types of shampoos, moisturizers, and body sprays.
Natural shampoos are best for both your hair and beard. These products do not contain triclosan or other harmful chemicals.
Some of the highest rated natural shampoo brands include Klorane, Acure, Shea, Baebody, and Andalou. All are available from online retaliers such as Amazon. Some health food stores carry them as well.[iv]
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