Thursday, January 21, 2016

Is wearing a beard good for your health?

Recent Study

A recent study published January 2016 in the Journal of Hospital Infection has taken aim at clean-shaven men claiming that their faces are higher numbers of bacteria, than those with bristles.

Apparently, having facial hair could protect you from harmful bacteria and even actively fight infections.

After swabbing the skin of 408 male hospital workers in two teaching hospitals, researchers found that smooth chins were three times more likely to be carrying harmful bacteria including methicillin-resistant staph aureus (MRSA). According to the NHS, MRSA is a “superbug” that is difficult to treat because it appears to be resistant to most antibiotics.

The report read: "Our results suggest that male hospital workers with facial hair do not harbor more potentially concerning bacteria than clean-shaven workers, and that in some instances, clean-shaven individuals are significantly more likely to be colonized with potential [hospital acquired disease-causing] pathogens."

If you are wondering why you should ditch the razor, it is because shaving apparently causes “micro trauma to the skin” and abrasions which allow germs to grow. It is also often the culprit of ingrown hairs and bacterial infections that lead to acne.

The researchers added: “Our study suggests that facial hair does not increase the overall risk of bacterial colonization compared to clean-shaven control subjects. Clean-shaven control subjects exhibited higher rates of colonization with certain bacterial species.”

However, this new piece of information is not the first time someone has pointed out the pros of face fur.

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9 Benefits of Having a Beard

1. A beard can protect your face from the sun's damaging rays.

"Men with a lot of skin exposure end up with leathery skin and increase in wrinkles," Dermatologist Bobby Buka, founder of Greenwich Village Dermatology and section chief at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, admitted. "There's a condition known as dermatoheliosis -- that is chronic sun damage. The manifestation of that is spots, saggy skin and wrinkled skin."

In the University of Southern Queensland 2012 study, researchers left a group of mannequins, some bearded and some bare-faced, under the harsh sun of the Australian outback. When they compared the amount of radiation absorbed by each subject, they found that the beards blocked 90 to 95 percent of the harmful UV rays from the faces of the mannequins. This level of built-in protection in human beard-owners would successfully slow the aging process and reduce the risk of one day developing skin cancer.

"Facial hair has an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) of anywhere from 2 to 21," one scientist on the study, Alfio Parisi, told. "The percentage of UV blocked to the skin depends on the thickness and angle of the sun. ... Provided the beard is of reasonable thickness, I do not think there is a need to slather sunscreen over the beard due to the protection it provides." Though the adequate thickness of a beard can be hard to quantify, it has to be a thick bushy beard and not just stubble."

2. A beard can keep you warm in winter.

As the temperature drops, your beard is there to keep you warm. Having facial hair of any kind acts as a natural barrier of protection, especially in winter months. When we are talking about wind and cold weather chapping of the skin, it acts as thermal protection as well as physical protection against the elements.

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3. A beard can ward off throat disease.

Facial hair can help keep airborne bacteria out of your mouth, which assists in protecting your throat. The effectiveness of the beard has been documented as far back as 1875! In the book Pulmonary Tuberculosis: Its Pathology, Nature, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Prognosis, Causes, Hygiene, and Medical Treatment, Dr. Addison P. Dutcher noted: “There cannot be the least doubt that the beard, and the hairs that grow in the nostrils, were designed by nature to guard the lungs from the invasion of these deleterious particles. Such being the use of the beard, individuals engaged in employments where the air is constantly filled with particles of fine dust should never shave. I have come to this conclusion from a careful observation of the effect of wearing the beard and of shaving upon the air passages and lungs. And I could, if space allowed, record many cases of throat and lung-diseases that have been permanently cured by wearing a beard.”

4. A beard can assist those with asthma.  

Similar to the prevention of throat disease, beards provide another barrier between your body and toxic exposures. If you have a reactive airway condition like asthma, a beard provides an additional filter before toxins enter your lungs. So the more hair you have under your airways (read: the bigger your beard), the more pollutants you're snaring every day, according to Dr. Clifford W. Bassett, Allergy and Asthma Care of NY medical director. Just be sure to treat your beard like any other filter and wash it regularly.

5. A beard can reduce the chances of bacterial infection.

Beards can add an extra layer of protection from infections. While bacteria naturally exist on the skin, shaving can create openings that bring in the bacteria and lead to infections and ingrown hairs. Not shaving can also reduce acne flare-ups.

According to the book The Acne Cure, by Terry J. Dubrow and Brenda D. Adderly, shaving can bring on acne breakouts, worsen existing acne and contribute to acne-related skin infections.

6. A beard as a natural moisturizer.

Beards work as a natural wind deterrent. They keep the cold air and wind off of your skin, which helps prevent your skin from drying out. The sebaceous glands also help to keep your face moistened better when you have a beard.

7. Not shaving can clear up your schedule for more important things.

In 1972, Dr. Herbert Mescon, then professor and chairman of the Department of Dermatology at Boston University School of Medicine, told The Spartanburg Herald that the average man will spend an estimated 3,350 hours of his life shaving. That is 139 days! Nearly five months! Growing a beard can save you so … much … time.

8. Most men feel more attractive with a beard.

German consumer-goods company Braun asked 1,000 New York men this past year about their grooming practices. 67 percent of the men surveyed said they sport facial hair -- a beard or a mustache -- and over half said they feel more attractive with a beard. 55 percent said they have received compliments about their facial hair, while 41 percent said a beard makes them feel more confident.

It is commonly held that beards make men look older, it’s really the opposite though. With less sun exposure to your face, your face actually shows less signs of aging than our non-bearded counterparts. Why would you ever not want to have a beard?

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9. A beard can improve your sex life.

Consider this your classic case of the chicken and the egg.

An anonymous 1970s study, quoted in the book The Dependent Gene, found a correlation between beard growth and the potential for sex. "The stimulus for increased beard growth is related to the resumption of sexual activity," the author of the experiment found, after spending extensive periods in isolation. When the likelihood of a sexual encounter increases so does testosterone secretion, which may impact beard growth, the book analyzes.

So, more sex, more beard? Or more beard, more sex?! Well, both.

According to a 2008 study carried out by psychologists at Northumbria University, "women ... rated men with stubble as tough, mature, aggressive, dominant and masculine -- and as the best romantic partners, either for a fling or a long-term relationships," per the Telegraph.

Further quoting from the researchers in the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences, the Telegraph notes: "Facial hair, or beardedness, is a powerful sociosexual signal, and an obvious biological marker of sexual maturity."

In a 1973 issue of psychology, Robert J. Pelligrini, a psychologist from California State University published the results of an experiment on the perception as a function of different state of beardedness or beardlessness. To carry out the experiment, Pelligrini hired eight full-bearded young men from the ages of 22-25 years, who were willing to have their beards completely shaved off. All men were professionally photographed in each of the following states:
* Full beard
* Goateed
* Mustached
* Clean shaven

Upon completion of the photographic sessions, there were a total of thirty two photographs i.e. four photos of each of the eight men. In the experiment, those photos were randomly distributed to subjects who were asked to rate their first impression based on a number of personality traits. The subjects who evaluated the photos compromised 64 male and 64 female psychology students. Hence, each photo was judged by two males and two females.

The result of this study by Pelligrini indicated a generally positive correlation between the amount of hair on the person’s face and his being perceived as masculine, good looking, dominant, mature, courageous, liberal, non-confirming, older healthy and attractive.

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Sources and Additional Information:

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