Dr Shergill explains: “For those patients [with folliculitis barbae] I would encourage them to grow a beard. They can then close crop it without actually scraping their skin, which leads to inflammation of the hair follicles.”
Without proper maintenance and care, even the most carefully trimmed beard or twizzled moustache can be a detriment to a man’s health, rather than a boon. Dr Sunil Chopra of the London Dermatology Centre gives little credence to other scientists’ claims that beards bring health benefits, insisting there is actually more chance of infection with a beard than a clean-shaven face. Facial hair is more likely to trap bacteria and food — the increased risk to hygiene is why British surgeons are advised to cover their beards when operating.
And while a well-kept beard can prevent the common bacterial infections men get from shaving, general practitioner Bram Brons of HealthExpress.co.uk says neglected fuzz can lead to more than just a tangled mess.
“One of the biggest disadvantages is pubic lice, also known as crabs, that can live in beards,” he says. “If you don’t care for your beard, it will begin to smell in a similar way to a sweaty and unwashed armpit. The smell can be a sign that bacteria are living in the beard, and they could eventually cause a number of ailments.”
The solution? Treat the hair on your face with as much care as the mop on your head. That means washing daily, using conditioner and applying beard oil to soften the hairs and avoid itching and discomfort.
But while some of the physical health benefits of facial hair remain up for debate, growing a mo this month might not only might make you feel good — it could save another man’s life. In a survey of more than 1,200 Movember participants last year, 67 percent recommended someone else see a doctor as a result of the campaign and 43 percent became more aware and educated about the health risks they face. Whether you sport a handlebar or an Errol Flynn pencil moustache, that’s worth chucking away a razor for.