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Haji 2003

Bacterial ecology of hospital workers' facial hair: a cross-sectional study

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It is unknown whether healthcare workers' facial hair harbours nosocomial pathogens. We compared facial bacterial colonization rates among 408 male healthcare workers with and without facial hair. Workers with facial hair were less likely to be colonized with Staphylococcus aureus (41.2% vs 52.6%, P = 0.02) and meticillin-resistant coagulase-negative staphylococci (2.0% vs 7.0%, P = 0.01). Colonization rates with Gram-negative organisms were low for all healthcare workers, and Gram-negative colonization rates did not differ by facial hair type. Overall, colonization is similar in male healthcare workers with and without facial hair; however, certain bacterial species were more prevalent in workers without facial hair.



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Just adding to Haji's post: 

 Facial hair does not increase the overall risk of bacterial colonisation compared to clean-shaven control subjects, Clean-shaven control subjects exhibited higher rates of colonisation with certain bacterial species.

Yep. Those with  shaved chins were three times more likely to be carrying harmful bacteria — including Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, known as MRSA — than their hirsute co-workers.

But how can this be?

The study has one explanation, which is that when you shave, you cause ‘microtrauma to the skin,’ resulting in abrasions, which could support bacterial colonisation.


Dr Adam Roberts, a microbiologist from University College London, was able to grow over 100 different bacteria from beard swab samples in a separate analysis.

Among the petri dishes, he found the presence of a microbe that appeared to be killing the other bacteria.

Dr Roberts isolated the microbe and tested it against a form of E. coli that causes urinary tract infections, and found the microbes killed the bacterium efficiently.




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