Is a beard bad for your health?

Beard-health_large 

More and more men seem to be sporting facial hair. Whether the beard is neat and trimmed or scruffy and unruly, it’s a fashion choice men are embracing with gusto.

Despite reports to the contrary, growing and maintaining a beard is perfectly safe with consistent care. Plus, they can actually help protect the skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays and from wind and cold temperatures during winter months. 

The following tips can help keep your beard healthy:

1. Make regular cleaning a routine

Like scalp hair, beards can get dirty and smelly if not washed on a regular basis. Skin naturally harbors bacteria, as well as yeast, so proper hygiene is important.  

Wash your face twice a day and shampoo your beard twice a week, on average. Shampooing is generally designed to remove dirt and debris. Follow the shampoo with conditioner. Beard conditioners can be used in the shower and washed off. These conditioners help moisturize the beard hairs and skin to avoid dryness that can lead to itching and skin irritation. Just be careful not to over-wash your beard. That can strip natural oils and cause dryness.

2. Moisturize your beard

Similar to scalp hair, beards may need additional moisture. You can apply beard oil for extra moisturizing of skin as needed. The oil will also help your beard hair feel softer. If beards aren’t moisturized, you could develop dryness and irritation.

3. Watch for common skin conditions

We don’t know the exact reason why but some people can develop seborrheic dermatitis, which can cause red, flaky, itchy irritation within beard hairs, as well as on the brows and scalp. If an over-the-counter dandruff shampoo doesn’t work, it’s usually treated with a medicated shampoo, cream or lotion.

There’s also a risk of developing ingrown hairs and acne, but this can happen when you’re clean shaven as well. Exfoliation and topical medications to control oil, fight bacteria and reduce inflammation are usually recommended.

Susan Massick is a dermatologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. You can find her on Twitter: @OhioSkinDoc

 

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