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A big, bushy beard is one of those impressive fashion statements to have come to the fore in recent years, with men across the country proudly growing out their chin fuzz to the acclaim of their peers.

It can be a fantastic boost to confidence to grow a manly beard, but could your face warmer be harbouring a nasty surprise? Well, researcher Dr Daniel Fenton, medical director at the London Doctors Clinic, believes this could be the case.

Dr Fenton has warned that unkempt beards could be a hotbed for several nasties that men will want to avoid, most notably public lice and the herpes Type 1 virus (HSV1).

Both of these sexually-transmitted illnesses can be passed on through oral sex and if a beard hasn't been treated for lice, then these little critters can make themselves at home.

In addition, large beards can mask cold sores that are a symptom of HSV1 infection, so it always pays to make a close inspection of the skin beneath the beard before getting intimate with a sexual partner.

However, it is not all doom and gloom for those of a hirsute persuasion, as Dr Fenton noted: "With that said, I think it is very important to debunk the myth of beards causing STIs.

"Whilst we have seen an increase in beards, there is no direct correlation between beards and [a rise in] STIs."

Indeed, common sexually-transmitted infections like syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia, or more serious conditions including HIV, cannot be passed on through facial hair, as these bacteria and viruses find it extremely difficult to survive outside of the body for any prolonged period of time.