Can you get impetigo from kissing someone with a beard?

Dating someone with a beard? Our dermatologist advisor, Dr. Alison Gruen, shares skincare tips to help you avoid impetigo blisters, beard burn, rashes and more.
Young couple hugging and smiling while sitting in outdoor patio of coffee shop

Key Points

  • Yes, you can get impetigo from making out with someone with a beard. But the risk is extremely low.
  • After kissing someone with a beard, you’re more likely to develop a beard burn or rash. But making a few shifts to your skincare routine can help prevent such irritation.
  • If one partner develops impetigo, both can use prescription Mucirpocin ointment treatment to stop the spread of the bacteria that causes the infection.

Spend significant time on TikTok, and you’ll stumble upon every kind of skin calamity, right? Like when a woman made out with her bearded boyfriend and developed a bumpy red impetigo rash.

Her infection does not look pleasant. But how worried should we really be about developing impetigo after getting all kissy-cuddly with a bearded paramour?

To find out, we asked Dr. Alison Gruen—a licensed dermatologist and one of Dr. B’s excellent medical advisors—to break down TikTok myth from medical reality.

Read on to learn about the types of bacteria that cause impetigo, what beards have to do with spreading the infection, and which skincare tips to try if you want to avoid the more likely result of bearded makeout sessions.

And if you develop impetigo from any source, Dr. B can help you get same-day prescription treatment with a $15 online medical consultation.

What does impetigo look like?

Impetigo starts out looking like red, itchy sores. Give it a few days, and the sores break open and leak a clear fluid. After a few more days, they form yellow scabs.

These don’t usually leave any permanent scars. But they can cause physical and emotional discomfort.

How do you get impetigo?

Impetigo is a skin condition caused by the Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria.

Many of us carry around these bacteria without issue. Up to 15% of us carry Streptococcus pyogenes in our digestive tract without causing something like strep throat, and about 30% of us carry Staphylococcus aureus inside of our noses. But impetigo can develop when the bacteria gets into our skin via a cut or small abrasion.

Catching impetigo from another person requires touching something with the bacteria on it, like an item or surface with fluid from a sore on it—or the skin of someone who has it. To prevent impetigo from spreading, wash your hands with soap and hot water and avoid sharing linens with an infected person.

So, can you get impetigo from kissing someone with a beard?

According to Dr. Gruen, yes! But she promises there’s no cause for alarm.

For beard-triggered impetigo to happen, she explains, the bearded person would have to carry the Staph bacteria around their nose or on their beard hair—which is less common, especially when beards are kept clean. (More on that below.) Then, the beard would have to create tiny cuts on the other person’s skin during the makeout session, inviting the bacteria to enter and cause infection.

“It’s theoretically possible. But there’s a very low risk even if the above scenario happens,” Dr. Gruen comforts. In her clinical practice, she has yet to come face-to-face with a single case of beard-induced impetigo.

Her professional opinion? “Certainly not a reason to avoid kissing guys with facial hair!”

Skincare tips to prevent beard burn and rash

Unfortunately, there are more common skin issues to worry about.

“By far, the most likely thing to happen to the non-bearded person is plain irritant dermatitis or abrasion—not a staph infection,” Dr. Gruen warns. She speaks from experience—her high school boyfriend had coarse facial hair, and her face was constantly red and irritated because of it.

If you’re dating someone with a beard and want to lower your risk of impetigo—and, more likely, beard burn or rash—she suggests altering your skincare routine to avoid additional irritants and exfoliants.

These include:

  • Retinoids
  • Hydroxy acids (glycolic or lactic acid)
  • “Exfoliating” facial scrubs
  • “Active” ingredients

After making out, wash your face with a mild, non-foaming cleanser. This will help remove any beard grooming products and saliva from your skin—which she points out contains enzymes that can worsen irritation. Gently pat your skin dry and use a very bland moisturizer and possibly an occlusive emollient like Aquaphor.

Facial hair is often most irritating the first day or two after shaving, when hair is short and coarse, with a sharp edge. As it grows in, it gets softer and less abrasive. So if your skin is already red and irritated during those rougher days? “It could be a good idea just to enjoy hand holding, movie watching or cooking dinner together—and giving the face skin a break,” Dr. Gruen suggests.

Beard grooming tips for compassionate partners

If you’re the beard-bearer, a few intentional grooming steps can reduce the risk of spreading the bacteria that causes impetigo to your partner—or causing regular skin irritation.

Keep your beard clean and use a beard moisturizer or conditioner—softer hair lowers the risk of abrasion. And make sure to use products compatible with sensitive skin so that you don’t pass harsh or allergenic ingredients from your skin to theirs.

Banner advertising Dr. B's services for impetigo treatments

When to try Mupirocin ointment prescription treatment

If either partner develops impetigo, Dr. Gruen says both can start Mupirocin ointment treatment. Apply it to the affected skin and inside the nostrils twice a day for a week or so. This will “eradicate the staph carrier state” so that you don’t continue to pass the bacteria between you.

Want to get a Mupirocin ointment prescription online? Dr. B offers same-day prescription care with an online consultation—for just $15. A licensed provider in your state can diagnose impetigo and send a prescription to your pharmacy if appropriate.

Healthy skin means makeout-friendly skin, right? So get started today!


Low, D.E. et al., (2012). Myositis, Pyomyositis and necrotizing fasciitis. Principles and Practice of Pediatric Infectious Diseases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Staphylococcus aureus in healthcare settings.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023). Group A Streptococcal (GAS) disease.

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