A common concern shared by men growing their first beard is whether facial hair can cause acne or aggravate an existing condition and lead to discomfort and scarring.
It appears there is no definitive answer and little evidence to prove beards cause acne. Top level research does, however, suggest that facial hair accompanied by inadequate hygiene and poor skin care can be a prime cause of acne flare-ups and scarring for people already suffering the condition.
Leading dermatologists say that most outbreaks of acne can be avoided, or their intensity greatly reduced simply by knowing what factors frequently cause an outbreak and how they can be avoided.
The following three tips will help allay fears among first time and inexperienced beard wearers:
- Blocked pores are one of the most common causes of acne and frequently caused by remnants of food clinging to the beard and descending to the skin below. Left to mingle with sweat, food particles can soften and seep into the pores. Washing the face and beard several times a day using medical cleansers will usually prevent the problem.
Other reasons the pores can become blocked and prone to infection include:
- Failure to remove heavy build-up of sweat on the face and beard, especially while exercising. Regular cleansing of face and beard is essential during and after strenuous activity.
- Facial hair curling back on itself can become lodged in the pores and hair follicles. Combing the beard several times each day will prevent ingrowing hair, as will ruffling the beard every hour or so using clean fingers and outward stroking movements.
- Thick skin creams and moisturizers can stick to bacteria and particles of cast-off skin and lead to blocked pores. Ask a pharmacist or dermatologist to recommend suitable liquid skin applications without heavy perfume or chemical content, both of which can aggravate acne.
- The area beneath the beard is usually warmer than skin on the rest of the face and more prone to itchiness. Scratching the affected area will aggravate current outbreaks and cause the infection to spread. Keep your fingers clean and away from blemishes. Ask a pharmacist to recommend medication to prevent itchiness.
- Grease and bacteria on an unkempt beard can become ingrained in pillowcases and contaminate healthy parts of the face during sleep. Reduce the spread of infection by washing the beard and face thoroughly before retiring for the night.
Use each side of the pillowcase just once and use a fresh pillowcase every two days. Choose silk or other soft fabric pillowcases that let the face move freely across the surface during sleep, unlike open weave materials with a tendency to trap facial hairs and spread the infection. Textured materials are also inclined to stick to wet and infected areas of the face and can be difficult and painful to remove.
Those three tips will help you grow a beard without inviting an outbreak of acne or exacerbating the discomfort of a current eruption.