Sorry fellas, that soup strainer on your face could be far dirtier than previously thought thanks to a new study.
A new study suggests that men's beards are far dirtier than previously thought after researchers found "significantly higher" amounts of bacteria on beards than they did on dogs.
"On the basis of these findings, dogs can be considered as "clean" compared with bearded men," scientists wrote in the research paper published in the peer-reviewed journal European Radiology.
Researchers took bacteria samples from 18 men with crumb catchers on their face and compared them to samples taken from 30 dogs. Scientists found that 23 of the 30 pups had high microbial counts in their fur, while 18 of 18 bearded men had high microbial counts. Beards were also found to be more likely to harbor disease-causing bacteria, including some bugs that cause urinary tract infections.
Bacterial samples were taken from the dog's necks, between the shoulder blades. Breeds in the study included border collies, dachshunds and German shepherds between the ages of 3 months and 13-years-old. The hirsute men provided researchers with samples of their beard hair located below the mouth. The length of each beard was measured by researchers by "gently pulling on the beard hair and measuring the length in centimeters with a ruler."
"The beards of men harbor significantly more microbes than the neck fur of dogs and these microbes were significantly more pathogenic to humans," researchers found. "these microbes were significantly more pathogenic to humans."
"In this study men have a significantly higher bacterial load in their beards than dogs have in their fur. More human-pathogenic bacteria were found in the men’s beard than in the dogs’ fur. Furthermore, dogs have a smaller total number of microbes in their oral cavities than humans," researchers wrote.
Scientists admit that while their research sample is small, it' provides an interesting look into what is considered "clean." The study came about thanks to veterinary clinics wondering if they could safely use the same MRI scanner for both dogs and humans. That prompted the study from Switzerland's Hirslanden Clinic, which tested the cleanliness of the MRIs used by dogs and people.
Researchers also pointed out that similar research could be done on hair samples from women's heads, which could carry just as much bacteria as a man's beard.
In the meantime, if you're a guy who isn't quite ready to give up the Duck Dynasty look, experts say men should clean their beard every day using shampoo and water. They also recommend to use a beard oil to help keep the hair shiny and healthy.