Are you sporting a beard? Better think twice before you decide to get rid of it. No, we are not saying that because the beard makes you look amazing and cool but because apart from being ‘in’ the fashion these days, a recent research has also found medical advantages of keeping facial hair; they are able to fight infections much better than the antibiotics that are currently available. Wait, there’s more; they are also being touted as a source of bacteria that might have the potential to be used for the development of new antibiotics.
A study was recently published in the Journal of Hospital Infection that carried out testing of swabs taken from the faces of 408 individuals from hospital staff with and without facial hair. It turns out that men who do not have facial hair are more prone to bacteria that causes infection and are more resistant to antibiotics as compared to men with beards. The clean-shaven men were also 10% more likely to have colonies of Staphylococcus aureus on their faces – bacteria related to skin, respiratory infections and food poisoning.
The scientists further stated that his happens because of the micro-abrasions that are formed due to razors that help bacterial colonization and proliferation. Dr. Adam Roberts, a microbiologist from University College London, carried out a separate analysis and was able to grow more than 100 forms of bacteria using beard samples. In his testing of one of them against a kind of E. coli that causes urinary tract infection, he was able to discover that the microbes killed the bacterium quite effectively. He said, “When you get a competitive environment like a beard where there are many different bacteria, they fight for food resources and space, so they produce things like antibiotics.”
Why do these findings matter this much? Because the antibiotics that we all are relying on currently are becoming ineffective since bacteria is developing resistance. These resilient bacteria caused infections claim 700,000 lives a year and this number could increase to 10 million by 2050. This is what has the scientific community working day and night for coming up with an antibiotic capable of tackling such bacteria. Until that feat is achieved, however, might want to keep that beard on.