In the hipster era, men with beards have gained a cult status. There are clubs for men with beards and social media accounts devoted to beard care. But a recent study found that bearded men aren’t exactly clean. In fact, they might be less clean than dogs.
Yes, you read that right.
Your dog might be cleaner than the chin of any bearded man you know.
A recent study compared swabs from the necks of 18 bearded men and compared them with swabs from 30 dogs. Because the dogs ranged in breed there was a variation in the fur length and consistency. The human participants, meanwhile, ranged in age from 18 to 76.
The beards were dirtier…quite a bit dirtier.
In fact, almost 50 percent of the swabbed beards contained bacteria dangerous to human health.
“The researchers found a significantly higher bacterial load in specimens taken from the men’s beards compared with the dogs’ fur,” said Andreas Gutzeit, a professor at Hirslanden Clinic in Switzerland. “On the basis of these findings, dogs can be considered as clean compared with bearded men.”
All of the bearded men’s results showed high microbial levels.
Seven out of 18 beards returned a result for dangerous microbes. These bacteria could potentially make people ill. Meanwhile, 23 out of the 30 sampled dogs had high microbial levels, while the rest had average counts.
So, it might be more accurate to say that bearded men are equally as clean as dogs, more or less.
However, some bearded men are not taking kindly to the results of the study.
In fact, one says, it might even be discrimination.
“I think it’s possible to find all sorts of unpleasant things if you took swabs from people’s hair and hands and then tested them,” said Keith Flett, the founding member of the Beard Liberation Front. “I don’t believe that beards in themselves are unhygienic. There seems to be a constant stream of negative stories about beards that suggest it’s more about pogonophobia than anything else.”
Pogonophobia is the fear or excessive dislike of beards, and the Beard Liberation Front is out to fight it.
The British anti-discrimination group was founded in 1995 by Flett began who started to campaign for the rights of the bearded. And though it might sound silly, the group actually has some pretty good points. In particular, they stand against workplace discrimination against bearded men.
“Those employers who ban their male workers from having beards … are also the same employers who demand that their female workers wear skirts not trousers,” reads the group’s Facebook page.
”….who rigorously discriminate when it comes to annual appraisal time against anyone who does not conform to the stereotype of a young, single white man in a suit.”
Whether or not the study is guided by pogonophobia, it may be a warning to all the bearded enthusiasts out there: invest in a beard wash and keep that chin-rug clean. Otherwise, the next time your dog bathes you in germs, you might be returning the favor.
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