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Is it true that beard is more dirtier than toilet? Does someone has any specific answer? I read it in a website (https://www.speakingtrees.in/your-beard-is-dirtier-than-a-toilet-health/), but I am not satisfied with what they say.

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A better comparison than "beard vs toilet" may be "face with beard vs face without beard."

This is actually a reasonable concern in the context of healthcare, where healthcare staff can be a vector for disease and where vulnerable people are numerous. If facial hair is a reservoir for disease, it might be reasonable to recommend that healthcare staff remain clean-shaven.

Wakeam, et al. found that clean-shaven men versus those with facial hair had different compositions of facial bacteria. Men with facial hair actually had less of some bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus. The authors suggest that small cuts from shaving might actually promote colonization in some cases.

Overall, though, they conclude that there isn't really any increased risk from the facial bacterial milieu of those with facial hair (there are separate studies looking at issues with surgical masks, etc, but I feel it's a bit of a stretch to go into that here).

Lab techs with facial hair had numerically a few more bacterial species present than those without, but the differences aren't substantial and don't really represent any risk (Lindeholm and Arpi 2016) - importantly, coagulase-negative staphylococci were more common in the clean-shaven techs, which are normal skin bacteria but are also a risk for infection of open wounds.

Summary and answer to the question

Beards might have more bacteria than a typical toilet, but an unbearded face probably does, too. People, and animals more generally, are great hosts for a variety of microbial species.


Wakeam, E., Hernandez, R. A., Morales, D. R., Finlayson, S. R. G., Klompas, M., & Zinner, M. J. (2014). Bacterial ecology of hospital workers' facial hair: a cross-sectional study. Journal of Hospital Infection, 87(1), 63-67.

Lindeholm, Y. N., & Arpi, M. (2016). Facial hair–what about clinical microbiology technicians?. Journal of Hospital Infection, 93(3), 313-314.

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    the phrasing that people without facial hair get that way by shaving caught my eye. Did they study just men? I would think that "men without facial hair" and women are different groups for this purpose. – Kate Gregory Aug 1 '18 at 1:39
  • @KateGregory Thank you, I will edit accordingly. The study was specifically comparing shaven men to men with facial hair. Women or men who do not have facial hair and also do not shave could have been an interesting comparison particularly for their hypothesis that the act of shaving could increase populations of certain bacteria. – Bryan Krause Aug 1 '18 at 16:10
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Lots of bacteria can be found in one's beard. Microbiologists found that men's facial hair can contain as much bacteria as your average toilet seat and even contained bacteria you'd find in a toilet. To be cautious, make sure you wash your hands regularly and avoid playing with and twirling the hair.

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    Oops, I read this while playing with my beard hair. Can you please provide some sources for your statements, and any support for the suggestion that bacteria found in a beard are more likely to cause some sort of illness than all the bacteria living on the rest of a human being? Avoiding touching the face is a common instruction for avoiding illness, but that is more about gathering bacteria from the rest of the world and putting it near vulnerable sites like the mouth, nose, and eyes. – Bryan Krause Jul 31 '18 at 18:01
  • We live in an ocean of bacteria, the human body has adapted to live in that environment, we actually need them as we use bacteria in our intestines to process food. For us to try to avoid bacteria is like a fish that's trying to avoid water. – Count Iblis Jul 31 '18 at 20:20

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