The Coronavirus has been wreaking havoc in the United States and all over the world. Researchers are trying to find more information about the virus to help contain its spread. There are also studies being conducted about how long the virus can live on certain surfaces.
According to the CDC, the virus can live in a place for “hours to days” depending on the surface and the condition. Stainless steel and plastic, for instance, can accommodate the virus for two to three days, as per the research shared by the National Institute of Health.
One of the surfaces, however, where the test has not been conducted is hair. Doctor Saad Omer, director of the Yale Institute of Global Health, said that he doesn’t “recall anyone” testing hair during the Coronavirus outbreak. Nevertheless, he also noted that the virus wouldn’t live on hair as long as other surfaces.
“Usually, viruses survive for lesser durations on porous surfaces, such as hair, than smooth surfaces, such as stainless steel,” he said. According to Doctor Adam Freidman of the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, the survivability of the virus depends on the condition of the hair.
“If you were just to rip out a few strands of hair, put them down, and someone who’s positive for corona sneezed on it, could the virus live on that hair, which has been ripped out and is no longer part of the human system? From what we’re seeing from a New England Journal of Medicine paper, it’s possible it could live on that surface for up to three days,” Friedman explained.
If the hair were still attached to the scalp, however, it would be a different story.
“This hair is not just hair sitting on a table,” he said, mentioning the natural oils that protect our hair. “They do have some antimicrobial properties, and they limit how well organisms can bind to the hair.” We are not supposed to be dependent on natural oil alone, mainly because it differs from person to person, said Freidman. The best way to stay safe is to wash your hair regularly.
“Using shampoo, there are surfactants — charged molecules that will bind to dirt, to oil, to bacteria, to viruses — and get them off or kill them,” he said. “Washing hair will prevent whatever matter is on your hair from being maintained.”
According to Saad, people should be washing their hair daily as long as the pandemic exists. Freidman, on the other hand, says there is no need to panic or wash your hair multiple times in a day.
“I don’t think you need to be that aggressive,” Friedman said. “It’s not the same as washing your hands. … The way the virus will infect us is through the mucosa. That’s how it gets in. If your hair is not falling in your face or you’re running your hands through it, I think there’s less of a risk.”
While, in theory, the contagion can pass from hair to hands to mucosa, Freidman says that there is no direct evidence confirming the case.
To avoid Coronavirus from latching on to your hair, avoid going to hairdressers or hair stylists as they would have to stand much closer to you, and if they are infected, you might end up getting it all over your hair. Freidman asks people to maintain social distancing and not to worry about catching the Coronavirus from your hair.