An abundance of bacteria: a beard, the aesthetic flagship of contemporary men, can turn into a hotbed of about 20,000 germs. British research has backed up this claim. The study, published in the journal Anasthesia, was conducted on a group of surgeons. It turned out that bearded doctors captured more bacteria than those of their colleagues who were hairless and who were women.


But where do these microorganisms come from? From the mouth, nose and hands. Having a cold can be a problem: the mucous from a runny nose, may in fact, stick to the beard. Crumbs and food debris can get caught between the hairs and attract other bacteria . Finally, people with beards , especially long ones, tend to repeatedly put their hands on their face. But are these colonies of bacteria really a health problem on their own or do they present other problems? The question is debated.According to some experts, although the beard is common ground for  bacterial microorganisms, there is no evidence to support their dangerousness.



The beard should be washed with hair shampoo

According to other specialists, a face covered with hair holds no more or less the same bacteria commonly found on the skin. In fact, a beard is not the only cluster of hairs in the human body that collects bacteria.”It is true that a larger number of bacteria lurk in the beard than on shaved skin, however this happens in other areas as well, particularly hairy scalp, armpits and the pubic area” says Professor Marcello Monti , head of the Dermatology Department at Humanitas .


“The bacteria , however, are the same type that normally live on the skin and therefore, they are not dangerous bacteria. Even in case of a cold , which is caused by a virus and not a bacterium, the beard does not become a particular vehicle of infection,” he adds. As a matter of fact, the beard can even be a defense mechanism for the body.” As a dermatologist, I have to say that wearing a beard is good for an individual. It protects them for UV rays, which are the primary cause of facial cancer and can also save one from the side effects of hair smoothing.”


Keeping a beard clean is simple. “Whoever has one must follow a few rules of hygiene which entail washing the beard at least once every other day with hair shampoo. In turn, the shampoo must be rapidly rinsed, such as those without sodium lauryl sulphate; otherwise, the beard tends to retain the detergent and there is a possibility of underlying skin irritation” concludes Professor Monti.




Commentary by Professor Marcello Monti


Head of the Dermatology Department at Humanitas &

Professor of Dermatology at the University of Milan