Ever wonder if there are are any health benefits to having a beard?
Researchers have shown that unhealthy hair can be an indicator of broader health problems such as Hyperthyroidism. Such studies demonstrate the relationship between hair health and general wellbeing, but what about the other way around? Are there health benefits to beards?
A recent study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection suggests at least one significant benefit to growing a beard: having fewer drug-resistant bacteria on your face!
That's right. The study found that men without beards were more than three times as likely to have methicillin-resistant staph auerus, more commonly known as MRSA, on their face.
Clean-shaven men had a greater than 10% chance of having staphylococcus aureus on their faces. Staph infections are known for causing all kinds of problems including abscesses, sinus infections, respiratory infections and food poisoning.
So are beards good for your health?
Maybe. Researchers speculate that shaving results in tiny cuts in the skin, allowing bacteria to take hold and grow. A full beard protects the underlying skin and bacteria can't thrive in the beard hair the way they can on clean-shaven skin.
So simply having a beard means having fewer harmful bacteria on your face. That alone probably helps your odds and reduces the chance of being exposed to nasty bacteria.
Other advantages of having a beard
Besides the health benefits we just discussed, having a beard carries with it all kinds of other advantages. Besides just looking absolutely awesome, you also get improved protection from the elements.
While a beard is no substitute for sun block, the beard hair does shield the skin from damaging ultraviolet rays from the sun. According to Alfio Parisi, a professor of radiation physics at the University of Southern Queensland in Toowoomba, Australia, a beard can provide an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) from 2 to 21.
“This is a reduction in the UV of 50 to 95 percent...” For reference, the sun protection factor (SPF) provided by correctly applied sunscreen is about 30.
That's a pretty impressive health benefit for just being you! Also, anyone who has spent any time on the slopes knows that a beard provides useful cover from the wind and cold. And that says nothing of how amazing you look while cruising down the hill looking like the frost king.
Can beards be bad for your health?
Well, it can't hurt to ask. After all, it seems like everything gives you cancer these days. Fortunately, there's no evidence to support the notion that extra facial hair causes tumors.
However, there's the recent revelation that beards may contain, well...excrement.
A microbiologist at Quest Diagnostics named John Golobic tested a number of beards to see if he could find bacteria. He found that some men had feces in their beards.
This alarming revelation contradicts the earlier benefits we just discussed. I know, but before you shave, just remember that he's talking about other guys, not you. You always wash your hands when you finish up right? So don't worry.
Beards for men's health
The bottom line here is that every man should have a beard. Aside from the obvious reasons, now there are health benefits to consider.
So, the next time your SO gives you a hard time about your beard, just mention this study. Just the idea of having all that bacteria crawling around a clean-shaven face is enough to elevate your bearded status.