What is cleaner, your beard, or your dog?
A new study suggests that a bearded man can carry more germs in his facial hair than a dog carries in its fur.
Researchers at the Hirslanden Clinic in Switzerland sampled the beards of 18 men and the necks of 30 canines of varying breeds.
“The researchers found a significantly higher bacterial load in specimens taken from the men’s beards compared with the dogs’ fur,” said professor Andreas Gutzeit.
Here are the specifics:
All of the bearded men, who were aged 18-76, showed high microbial counts, while only 23 out of 30 dogs showed high counts. The rest had moderate levels.
Seven of the men also tested positive for microbes that posed a threat to human health.
"On the basis of these findings, dogs can be considered as clean compared with bearded men," Gutzeit said.
Despite its findings, the actual purpose of the study was to determine whether it would be hygienic to let dogs and humans share the same MRI scanner. To achieve that objective, researchers compared the extent of bacterial contamination of an MRI scanner shared by dogs and humans with two other MRI scanners used exclusively by humans.
"Our study shows that bearded men harbour significantly higher burden of microbes and more human-pathogenic strains than dogs," the conclusion of the study reads."As the MRI scanner used for both dogs and humans was routinely cleaned after animal scanning, there was substantially lower bacterial load compared with scanners used exclusively for humans."
It's unclear why researchers chose bearded men as their comparison group.
While the study may prompt some men to grab their razors, it's important to note researchers only examined a small sample size. Plus, there can be some benefits to growing a beard.
According to Piedmont Healthcare, facial fuzz can protect the skin from harmful UV rays. And reducing the amount of harmful bacteria in a beard can be as simple as cleaning it on a regular basis.