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May 05, 2015

Grow at your own risk: Microbiologist says some beards comparable to toilets

Swabs of men's beards reveal 'disturbing' uncleanliness

Grow at your own risk. Your beard, that is. 

Swabs of a handful of men's beards have revealed some disturbing results, Action 7 News in New Mexico reports.

The news outlet gathered swabs from some bearded volunteers and asked Quest Diagnostics microbiologist John Golobic to test them.

Some of the bacteria found in the beards was normal, while a few of the bacteria present were “enterics,” which are normally found in the intestines.

“I'm usually not surprised and I was surprised by this,” Golobic told Action 7 News. "Those are the types of things you'd find in (fecal matter)."

If the city were to find similar samples in the water system, Golobic said it would need to be shut down for disinfecting.

Golobic recommends thorough beard and hand washing.

Nick Evershed at the Guardian, however, argues that there is no cause for concern.

"While it is true that human faeces are partially composed of gut bacteria, it’s not accurate to describe those bacteria on their own as faeces," Evershed writes. "Human skin is home to great diversity of microbes, and it’s not unheard of for types of bacteria normally found in the gut, such as E. coli, to be also found on the skin."

So maybe your beard isn't quite the equivalent of a toilet, but if birds start nesting in it (see below), then it may be time for a trim.

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