Covid-19 and beard: what precautions should men take?

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Neglected beard for three days or trimmed like hipsters. Will it disappear with the Covid-19? Maybe.

Since the Covid-19 epidemic in Quebec, Lucie Opatrny, deputy vice minister of the General Directorate for University, Medical, Nursing and Pharmaceutical Affairs, has asked medical staff to shave their beards because they harm their health. Perfect seal of the mask.

In France, healthcare personnel are encouraged not to wear a beard so that their FFP2 mask, which must adhere well to the skin, protects them sufficiently. And what about the rest of the men?

The virus hides there for several hours.

"Hair easily retains microbes, viruses and infectious agents," says Dr. Michel Le Maître, dermatologist, scientific director of the Moulin Royal Cosmetics laboratory.

Therefore, the Covid-19 virus can live several hours in the beard, without forgetting that we touch our faces, on average, 60 times a day. "The contact surface of the virus and the bacteria is more important than in a skin without a beard" indicates Dr. Michel Le Maître. As for the use of the mask, "it does not always completely cover the beard." So if you go for a handmade mask, you should plan to make it the right size. And don't forget to rinse it with water to remove the hairs that have adhered to it, before putting it in a washing machine at 60 ° C.

"You should not only wash it every day with soap and water, but also when you return from having done your basic shopping or from a short trip near your house to practice physical activity or to take your dog out," says Dr. Le Maître.

The choice of shaving foam is also important. "You should use a good quality shaving foam, which contains antimicrobial and antibacterial substances, such as pyroctone-olamine, for example, advises the doctor. They protect against the risk of beard folliculitis."

Throughout history, beards have been a controversial choice, and scientists and academics have long had a dialogue about their hygienic properties.

"There are arguments on both sides," said Dr. Carrie Kovarik, a professor of dermatology, dermatopathology, and infectious diseases at the University of Pennsylvania in the United States.

According to Kovarik, several studies he has reviewed throughout his career have tried to show that beards can carry more germs and bacteria than shaved skin when the reverse may also be true. "Shaving introduces micro-tips into the skin that open the skin barrier," she says. So just like touching an infected surface and then touching the beard could introduce germs or bacteria, the same could happen on a shaved face that has a compromised skin barrier.

Dr. Katie Beleznay, a board-certified American dermatologist and practitioner of medical and cosmetic dermatology in Vancouver, Canada, said: "The amount of microbes or bacteria in facial hair is comparable to that found in other parts of our skin. "Our skin, including our face, has bacteria all the time, regardless of the condition of the facial hair. Most experts agree that facial hair will not increase the chance of contracting or spreading the coronavirus (or other viruses)." , she says.

So what is the most appropriate answer? Should all beards be abandoned or are we safe with a bit of sloppiness?

"The key for everyone, shaved or bearded, is to practice good general hygiene, especially in terms of keeping your hands clean," says Beleznay. "Just like we wash our hands, people with facial hair should also be careful to wash their beards, just like they wash their hair on their heads."

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