Beards. You either love 'em or you don't.

In the past, one of the reasons that many — mostly women — cited for their aversion to beards was their general uncleanliness. But a new study shows that a beard may actually be better for a man's health than a clean-shaven face.

It's true that there's some credence to the notion that beards aren't the cleanest. Past studies have found copious amount of enteric bacteria (the kind that comes from your gut,) in the beards of men. As one commentator put it, "Some beards contain more poo than a toilet."


But a recent study has found that not all of the bacteria hiding in a man's beard is unhealthy. And in some cases, a beard may help prevent more serious health issues. A study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection found that men without beards were more than three times as likely to be harboring MRSA (methicillin-resistant staph aureus) bacteria on their faces than their bearded brethren.

One possible explanation is that the men who shaved exposed themselves to tiny micro abrasions that provide an easy entry point for bacteria. But the "Trust Me, I'm a Doctor" team at BBC suggested a different possibility. They swabbed the beards of "a random assortment of men," and had the swabs analyzed for bacteria.

Sure enough, the beards contained more than 100 different strains of bacteria. But analysis also showed that at least one of the bacteria was killing the other bacteria. Could this particular bacteria found in beards actually be producing its own antibiotic, killing off dangerous bacteria before it has a chance to do harm?

The team over at BBC thinks it's possible, but there's a lot more research to be done to know for sure.

And that means that while your favorite guy's beard may be loaded with breakfast crumbs and who only knows what else, it may also be the one thing that's keeping him healthy.