WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Go anywhere adult men are gathered, and you'll likely find several who have beards.
A study published in February found that some of their facial hair might be dirtier than a dog's fur.
The sample size for the study published in the journal European Radiology was small; only 18 bearded men were tested.
The study was conducted to see if it was safe for humans to use the same MRI scanners that dogs had used. Researchers took fur samples from between the shoulder blades — a "particularly unhygenic spot" the researchers wrote — of 30 dogs, then took samples from three spots on the scanner as well.
Bacterial samples were also collected from the beards of hospital patients who were to have MRI scans.
All 18 bearded men showed "high microbial counts" whereas only 23 of the 30 dogs did, the researchers wrote.
“Not at all,” bearded Wilmington resident Aaron Charles said when asked if he was surprised by the findings in the study. “But think about money. Do you know how much cocaine and poop is on money? And people touch it all the time. I think we can leave the beards alone and clean up other things that need it more.”
Not only did the men's beards contain more potentially-infectious microbes than the dogs' fur, but the men also left the scanners more contaminated than the animals.
Seven of the men tested positive for the type of bacteria that can make a person ill if it colonizes in the wrong part of a host body.
Justin Breeden, like Charles, said he cleans his beard daily with soap and/or shampoo, and Breeden added he also uses beard creams and balms per his wife's suggestion.
"She gives me tips on how she wants it to be formed," Breeden said after finishing a workday with a construction crew in downtown Wilmington. "She doesn't like it all scruffy. That's why she buys me the creams. Those are her scents that she picks out.
“When they look scruffy, they look dirty. I saw a guy in Subway today that looked pretty rough, at least his beard did.”