Does your NHL playoff beard have more germs than your dog? Microbiologist says yes

The playoff beard has been an annual tradition at this time of year for decades, dating back to the New York Islanders dynasty of the 1980s.

According to a recent study, however, the seasonal hairiness can come with unwanted bacteria – more than you’d find in the average dog’s fur.

Microbiologist Jason Tetro, host of Corus podcast “the Super Awesome Science Show”, told 680 CJOB in Winnipeg the research wasn’t originally intended to study beards at all.

“It had absolutely nothing to do with fur and beards. It was actually a study to find out if we could take our four-legged friends and put them in MRIs,” said Tetro, who is notably beardless.

“The problem is lots of people would be very nervous about going into an MRI because they think, well, dogs carry germs and we’re going to get sick.

“So they decided they would do a study where they took dog fur and looked at the bacteria on the dog fur and wanted to find something with humans that would be similar, and they chose the beard.”

The study, conducted by researchers at Hirslanden Clinic near Zurich, Switzerland, compared the bacterial load in 18 men’s beards and 30 dogs’ fur, resulting in high microbial counts in all 18 beards.

“If you’ve got a playoff beard, you’re going to have a whole bunch of different types of bacteria coming from the food. That’s probably not going to be all that bad. You’re also going to have lots of bacteria that’s coming form skin, especially if you’re scratching it in overtime,” said Tetro.

“If you happen to be a playoff lover and happen to enjoy the fizzy beverages, you can actually take those yeasts from your beard and use them to make your own at home. Honestly, you can google ‘beard beer’ and I guarantee you it will be a joy, a delight and for most people, absolutely disgusting.”

Beardless microbiologist Jason Tetro

Bearded men working in kitchens, restaurants, or even health care, he said, are likely going to need to wear a ‘snood’, which is basically a hairnet for a beard.

Despite all of that, there’s no reason to develop pogonophobia – the fear of beards.

Hockey fans, said Tetro, can do some basic beard maintenance to keep their facial hair healthy.

“You want to be sure that you are washing that beard and giving it a good rinsing, giving it good drying,” he said.

“You want to be keeping those hygenic. Otherwise, grow out that beard and go Jets!”

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