Keep the beard, Eli!

There's a new paper in the Journal of Hospital Infection that takes a look at the bacterial ecology of facial hair. In this study, 408 male healthcare workers had two areas of their face cultured. About half of the men had facial hair and the other half did not. Interestingly, the men with facial hair were significantly less likely to have skin colonization with S. aureus (lip: 34% vs 45%; cheek 41% vs 52%). When the facial skin was scratched with a sterile swab there was no difference in bacterial shedding between the two groups.

These findings are consistent with what we know about S. aureus. Colonization rates are higher in persons with chronic breaks in the skin (e.g., patients with eczema, dialysis patients, diabetic patients who require insulin injections, and IV drug users). Shaving causes micro- (and sometimes macro-) abrasions and lacerations. And cosmetic body shaving has clearly been associated with MRSA infections.

Based on this study, I would grow a beard, if only I could. Mine is too mangy. It would scare my patients. But for $8500, I could get a facial hair transplant, which is now all the rage in New York. Maybe there's hope...


  1. This is great! I will be sure to suggest this to my friend's husband. Her husband was "caught" with a tube of L'oreal Voluminous mascara in off black in his bathroom drawer. Her initial thought was that he was: 1) a cross-dresser on the sly or 2) having an extra-marital affair.....neither proved to be true as he admitted to using it to fill in his rather sparse beard to achieve that manly/Hipster look.

  2. Good to know! Maybe I should try the beard enhancement technique you describe.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Post a Comment

Thanks for submitting your comment to the Controversies blog. To reduce spam, all comments will be reviewed by the blog moderator prior to publishing. However, all legitimate comments will be published, whether they agree with or oppose the content of the post.

Most Read Posts (Last 30 Days)