Can Coronavirus Live on Hair? Here’s What Experts Are Saying

March 22, 2020

As coronavirus continues to spread across the globe, experts continue to find more research about how long the virus can live on various surfaces.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the virus could stay on certain things for "hours to days" depending on the surface. For example, on stainless steel and plastic, COVID-19 can live on the surface for two or three days.

But can coronavirus live on hair? Dr. Saad Omer, director of the Yale Institute of Global Health, told Today he doesn't "recall anyone" testing hair amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Dr. Omer also said the virus wouldn't live on hair as long as it would on other surfaces.

"Usually, viruses survive for lesser durations on porous surfaces, such as hair, than smooth surfaces, such as stainless steel," Dr. Omer said.

Experts say it does depend on the circumstances of the hair. Dr. Adam Friedman, the interim chair of dermatology at the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, recommends that people wash their hair daily during the coronavirus pandemic. However, when washing your hair, there is no need to panic or wash your hair multiple times a day.

"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," Friedman said. "Washing your hair will prevent whatever matter is on your hair from being maintained."

Doctors report that the way the virus will infect us is through mucosa, the mucous membrane. If your hair is not falling in your face, there is less of a risk. The same logic applies to running your hands through your hair often.

According to Dr. Omer, there is no direct evidence of the coronavirus passing from hair to hands to mucosa.

The real threat lies in going to barber shops and hair dressers. Friedman encourages everyone to comply with social distancing guidelines, as that is the best way to prevent the spread of the virus.

While washing your hands for at least 20 seconds and washing your hair once daily has been a top recommendation for the last couple of weeks, people have ignored an unexpected coronavirus accomplice: their phones.

Whether you're texting, talking, or scrolling, your phone's surface carries germs.

The World Health Organization said if a person thinks their phone surface may be infected, they must clean it with disinfectant to kill the virus and protect themselves from others.

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