May 28, 2015 2:00 PM

Author: Rachel Finlayson


Recent headlines claim beards contain hazardous bacteria, some comparing facial hair to fecal matter. It’s enough to give anyone pause.

To beard or not to beard? We asked the physicians.

University of Utah research finds beards do contain bacteria—but that's not all.

While there is bacteria found in beards- just like the rest of the human body- it's not harmful. In fact, research conducted in part by University of Utah physician Samuel R.G. Finlayson, MD, MPH found that “certain bacterial species were more prevalent” in clean-shaven workers. Surprised?

Possible reasons include tiny infections left from small cuts sustained while shaving, leading to “bacteria colonization and proliferation.” Yuck!

When asked about the study, Finlayson stated “it turns out that clean shaven healthcare workers may shed as much or more bacteria from their faces than bearded ones.”

And if that’s the case… should health care workers try to grow a beard? At the end of the day, it appears facial hair yields neither significant benefit nor harm. Says Finlayson, “Clean? Yes. Clean shaven? Not necessarily.…The difference isn’t great. The evidence suggests it’s ok to have a beard but there’s not much evidence that it’s safer. “

skin care men's health

comments powered by Disqus

Sign Up for Weekly Health Updates

Get weekly emails of the latest news from HealthFeed.

For Patients

Find a doctor or location close to you so you can get the health care you need, when you need it