WebMD BlogsPublic Health

'Can COVID Live on Hair?'

brushing hair
By Elizabeth Hanes, BSN, RNAugust 17, 2020
From the WebMD Archives

You’re standing in line at the grocery store when the person behind you coughs, and in that instant you wonder if the back of your head is now coated with coronavirus particles. You starting thinking maybe instead of just washing your hands when you get home, you should also shampoo.

But can COVID-19 live on hair? More specifically, can the virus that causes COVID-19 spread by hitching a ride on someone’s tresses?

Experts believe it’s unlikely.

Any virus – including SARS-CoV-2 – can cling to human hair. But merely being deposited on strands of hair does not mean the virus can make you sick. The coronavirus weakens pretty quickly once it’s outside the body. In other words, the virus can be present on a surface like your hair but not be strong enough to make you sick if you transfer it into your body.

If you tend to chew on the ends of your hair, then maybe you could get sick from picking up the virus on your hair. So, don’t chew your hair.

For the rest of us, it’s technically possible but not probable that you’ll pick up the virus from your hair because your hair – whether on the face or the head – regularly receives a coating of oil from the skin or scalp to protect it. This slippery coating not only makes it difficult for germs to stick to strands of hair, but it has an antimicrobial effect that may cause the germs to die more quickly.

So, in general, you shouldn’t feel too concerned about picking up the coronavirus from your hair. But if you do worry, then you can shampoo or shower more frequently (and maybe have your kids wash their hair more often, too, if they’ve gone back to school).

To stop this virus from spreading, it’s more effective to focus your attention on wearing a mask every time you go out and avoiding close contact with anyone outside your household. Stay at least six feet away (and farther is better) from other people when you’re out. And, yes, keep washing your hands frequently – but don’t worry about shampooing every time you come home from the store.



WebMD Blog
© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
Blog Topics:

More from the Public Health Blog

  • vitamin d supplement

    'What's the Best Time of Day to Take Vitamins?'

    Knowing what time of day to take your vitamin and mineral supplements can help you maximize their effectiveness and avoid dangerous interactions.

  • man sore throat

    'Does a Sore Throat Mean I'm Sick?'

    If your only symptom is a sore throat, it may not be anything to get worked up about. But, how do you know if you need to call a doctor?

View all posts on Public Health

Latest Blog Posts on WebMD

View all blog posts

Important: The opinions expressed in WebMD Blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Blogs are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.

Do not consider WebMD Blogs as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.

Read More