In light of the recent coronavirus pandemic, hygiene and disinfection have become hot topics. We have talked about the effectiveness of handwashing, handling the grocery shopping safely and disinfecting the home. It's time to take a close look at hair hygiene, and particularly the one product we all use - shampoo.
Despite the fact the original purpose of shampoo is not to kill bacteria, it does a pretty good job of getting rid of it in other ways. The main aim of shampoo is to cleanse the scalp and hair of excess oil, dirt, and product build-up. During the process of lathering up and rinsing, shampoo weakens and sends many microorganisms that hide in our hair down the drain.
Moreover, shampoos contain detergents that are meant to remove the oil from our hair. They are more delicate than the ones found in soap, so they don’t damage and dry out the hair, but they are powerful enough to dissolve membranes of certain bacteria and viruses, thus eradicating them. The bottom line is that shampoo may not be the most powerful pathogen killer, but it is very effective at washing the pathogen away and sending it down the drain.
Firstly, it's important to note that hair is porous, and it has been proven that the novel coronavirus struggles to live on porous surfaces (find out more about the coronavirus's durability on surfaces here). Moreover, the hair is covered in natural oils, which have some antimicrobial properties, and they limit the ability of organisms to bind onto the hair.
But of course, we cannot trust natural oils alone and we must keep in mind the fact that different people have different hair types with different properties. The best way to stay safe is simply to wash your hair often. In normal times, it is generally not recommended to wash your hair every day, but experts claim that once a day is an optimal amount during the pandemic. There is no need, however, to go overboard and wash your hair several times a day.
Do remember to disinfect your brushes and combs regularly, and avoid sharing hair products with your housemates to prevent the transfer of germs. There are antibacterial and antifungal shampoos out there, but if you are not advised by a doctor to use one, it is best to steer clear from those products. According to biology experts, the risk in using unnecessary medical products is that the antimicrobial compounds might kill the beneficial bacteria naturally found in hair, and in many cases promote antibiotic resistance and cause fungal scalp infections.
All in all, when it comes to hair and Covid-19, there is no need for worry or to make changes in your usual routine. The chances that anything harmful is living in your hair are very slim, and washing it every day with your regular shampoo will sufficiently protect you.