Growing beard is actually healthy ?
By Dr Brighton Chireka
A lot has been said about growing beard from hygienic to biblical point of view and it seemed the jury was out but not anymore. I have always wanted to grow a beard and was told that it’s not advisable because of infection control fears. No one showed me the evidence that growing beard increases the risk of infection. It was an assumption and it seemed to make sense so we followed the advice blindly.
It was always a debate of mind that one had between hygienic and biblical implications of growing beard. Charles Spurgeon who is considered by many to be one of the greatest preachers of the ages said the following, “Growing a beard ‘is a habit most natural, scriptural, manly, and beneficial.’” In the bible we know that Joseph, Samson and even Jesus grew beard and also the bible encourages christians to grow beard. Having said that let me hasten to say this, God is far more concerned with the inward instead of the outward. God looks at the heart, not external things. Nevertheless, the Bible does have a lot of advice on outward appearances too. So it is important to avoid asking “Can’t I do what I want due to grace?” Rather, we should ask, “What would God have me do?”
Hospital acquired infection is a cause for concern and a lot of measures have been put in place to reduce the risk of getting infections in hospitals. We go to a hospital to be cured and not to acquire infections and get worse. Health professionals especially doctors no longer wear white coats, ties and are encouraged to wash their hands before and after touching a patient. Reports suggest that about 25 to 50 % of doctor’s white coats harbour bacteria such as staphylococcus aureus. There has been debate as whether facial hair can harbour more bacteria that can be passed on to patients.
A recent study by The Healthcare Infection Society published by Elsevier Ltd in 2014 which tested swabs from the faces of 408 hospital staff with and without facial hair showed that, clean-shaven men are more than three times as likely to be carrying methicillin-resistant staph auerus (MRSA) on their cheeks as their bearded counterparts. Clean-shaven men were also more than 10 per cent more likely to have colonies of Staphylococcus aureus on their faces, a bacterium that causes skin and respiratory infections, and food poisoning. Researchers suggest this may be due to micro-abrasians caused by shaving in the skin, “which may support bacterial colonisation and proliferation”. The report reads: “Overall, colonisation is similar in male healthcare workers with and without facial hair, however, certain bacterial species were more prevalent in workers without facial hair.”
Healthcare Infection Society Study
Another interesting “study ” by Dr Adam Roberts, a microbiologist based at University College London showed that actually “beards fight infection” . Following the interest from the above study men were randomly swabbed and the swabs were sent to Dr Roberts. He managed to grow over 100 different bacteria from the beards. Among the bacteria that he grew was the “silent assassinator” bacteria called Staphylococcus epidermis. The most interesting finding was that when he tested this bacteria against a particularly drug-resistant form of Escherichia Coli ( E. coli) the type that causes urinary tract infections, it killed this bacteria . This finding shows that beards may be carrying a bacteria that kills other bacteria that we are struggling to treat .
In view of the research above , shall we start a beard revolution? One musician has sung a song ” Chengetai ndebvu varume mufananane naAbraham” ( Men grow beard to look like Abraham). I think I am convinced now to grow my beard like my brother Brilliant Pongo below.
This article was compiled by Dr. Brighton Chireka who is a GP and a Health Commissioner in South Kent Coast in the United Kingdom. You can contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org and can read more of his work on his blog at DR CHIREKA’S BLOG
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Dr Chireka has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. Views expressed here are personal.