Researchers with the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston swabbed the faces of 408 male hospital workers both with and without beards. After testing the swabs, they found that the clean-shaven participants were three times more likely to be hosting methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, on their cheeks. The researchers hypothesized that shaving can cause micro-abrasions in the skin that attract the bacteria, the BBC reports.
MRSA is a common infection, often acquired by those who spend time in hospitals. The infection tends to be mild, surfacing as a pimple or bug bite-type bump that is itchy or annoying. But it may develop into puss pockets that require surgical draining.
In really severe cases, MRSA can lead to dangerous infections in bones, joints, cuts, the urinary tract, the bloodstream, heart valves and lungs, according to the Mayo Clinic. It can result in the spread of infection and, in severe cases, death.
That said, it's important to note that presence of MRSA on a person's skin doesn't indicate that they have or will have an infection. And the researchers did not evaluate whether MRSA-positive results contributed to higher rates of illness.
While everyone has their aesthetic preferences, it turns out beards can be quite beneficial for your health. Beard on and prosper.
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