Some men's beards are as dirty as toilets, with the same bacteria normally found in faecal matter, scientists have found.
In a small TV experiment by New Mexico's Action 7 News, a microbiologist was called in to test the beards of a handful of men for germs.
Findings provided some "disturbing results" revealed John Golobic, who carried out the tests. He said: "I'm usually not surprised and I was surprised by this."
While several of the beards contained normal bacteria, some were filthier than toilets, containing "the types of things you'd find in [faecal matter]". It is worth noting that finding the same bacteria as is present in faeces is not the same as faeces itself.
However, Golobic said if the city's water samples were found to contain the same bacteria discovered in some of the beards, the water plants would need to be shut down and disinfected.
While the beard bacteria will not lead to illness, Golobic admitted it was concerning. He said: "There would be a degree of uncleanliness that would be somewhat disturbing."
He added men with beards should try to keep their hands away from their faces and wash regularly.
There has been widespread media attention on the health hazards that beards can pose over the past few weeks. A number of articles from March and April claimed beards could result in illness because the coarse hair provides an environment ideal for bacteria to breed.
However, there has been no conclusive evidence to support this idea. In terms of ensuring hygiene, Brian Boye, fashion and grooming director of Men's Health magazine, said: "Wash it regularly, keep it conditioned, whether with hair conditioner or beard oil. Those are the two simplest things you can do."