WEB DESK: You might have noticed that Beards are in fashion again. The goatee, the French, the neck beard and the all-out-beard is appearing again. But are beards good for health? Or are they hiding lots of tiny germs inside.
In a study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection, they tested the faces of 408 hospital staff with and without facial hair.
They chose hospital staff because hospital-acquired infections are a major cause of disease and death.
Researchers discovered to their surprise that it was clean shaven staff, who were more likely to be carrying infections that the one with beards.
The beardless group were more than three times as likely to be harbouring a species known as methicillin-resistant staph aureus on their freshly shaven cheeks. MRSA is a particularly common and troublesome source of hospital-acquired infections because it is resistant to so many of our current antibiotics.
The researchers suggested that shaving might cause micro-abrasions in the skin “which may support bacterial colonisation and proliferation”.
Perhaps. But there was another more plausible explanation staring them in the face. That beards fight infection.
The team of researchers swabbed the beards of a random sample of men and sent them of to Dr Adam Roberts, a microbiologist based at University College London, to see what he had to say.
Dr Roberts grew over 100 different bacteria on the beards. But he saw that something was killing those bacteria. The most obvious suspect was a fellow microbe.
Microbes have helped devise some of the most powerful anti-biotics.
Dr Robert concluded that microbes in the beards are actually fighting off harmful bacteria. So beards are actually acting as anti-biotics.
Source: BBC News