Beards are fashionable these days, but a study found some scary stuff lurking in them.
The main goal of the research was not to analyze beards. Instead, scientists at Paracelsus Medical University in Salzburg, Austria, wanted to see if it was safe for people to use the same MRI scanners that dogs are sometimes scanned in.
Most veterinarians don’t have MRI scanners. So pet MRI scans are often done at facilities for humans.
The researchers took fur samples from dogs. And they also took hair samples from the beards of men to use as a comparison. Then they analyzed both sets of samples for dangerous bacteria.[i]
It turned out that men’s beards carried far more infectious germs than dog fur did. Human beards had what researchers called a “high level” of contamination. Dog fur contained only medium to low levels.
Professor Andreas Gutzeit was the study author. He said that some of the germs found on the human subjects can be life-threatening. These include Enterococcus faecalis. It can cause infections of heart lining or meningitis, which is a potentially fatal inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain.[ii]
Some beards contained Staphylococcus aureus. It can cause skin infections that can spread through the bloodstream to infect organs.
“On the basis of these findings, dogs can be considered clean compared with bearded men,” Professor Gutzeit said.[iii]
In fact, the study concluded that MRIs used for dogs have fewer germs than those used exclusively for humans.
The study was published in the journal European Radiology.
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 don’t 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.
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.[iv]
Natural shampoos are best for both your hair and beard. These products do not contain triclosan or other harmful chemicals. And they effectively remove bacteria.
Some of the highest rated natural shampoo brands include Klorane, Acure, Shea, Baebody, and Andalou. They are widely available online and at health food stores.[v]
Another less expensive option is making your own beard shampoo.
Natural Beard Shampoo Recipe
- 2 tsp coconut oil
- ¼ cup liquid castile soap
- 1/8 tsp tea tree oil
- 1/8 tsp peppermint oil
- Distilled water
Mix the first four ingredients then add distilled water gradually (about a ¼ cup) to make the shampoo the consistency that you prefer.[vi]
Beards don’t have to be bacteria playground. By using a natural shampoo every time you shower, you’ll keep your beard from going to the dogs.
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References[i] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00330-018-5648-z [ii] https://www.healthline.com/health/enterococcus-faecalis#symptoms [iii] https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-04-men-beards-germs-dog-fur.html [iv] https://qz.com/779681/the-new-fda-rule-on-triclosan-a-banned-chemical-in-anti-bacterial-soap-is-still-in-practically-every-other-american-bath-product/ [v] https://www.bustle.com/p/the-5-best-natural-shampoos-9943109 [vi] https://www.tomfw.com/diy-beard-wash/