What the hair is going on with the COVID-19 coronavirus? A study published in The Lancet has shown that this new coronavirus can stay on cloth for up to a day and on stainless steel and plastic for up to four days. What then does this mean for your do, assuming that the hair on your head is not made out of plastic or stainless steel?

Well, searching PubMed “coronavirus” and “hair” revealed no real studies of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV2) and the human hair. It did return a case report about an unfortunate cat with ruffled hair, though. So it’s not clear how long the virus may be able to survive on that growing and increasingly unruly mound of stuff on your head. Or your beard if you happen to have one. There is the possibility that the virus could remain viable on your hair for a few hours or even a few days. Does this then mean that you should be washing your hair as often as you are washing your hands?

Certainly not. Washing your hair a dozen or more times a day would be quite impractical. Your split ends would be out of control. Plus, washing your hair too often can actually damage your scalp’s natural defense mechanisms, including the oils and friendly bacteria that normally cover your scalp. That can leave your scalp more susceptible to bacteria and fungal infections and injury.

Moreover, unless your uncut hair has gotten so out of control that it’s dragging the floor, your hair is probably not being exposed to large amounts of the virus. Presumably you aren’t using your hair to open doors, push shopping carts, and wipe your bottom. Unless someone is sneezing, coughing, or panting directly into your hair, stroking your hair with his or her virus-contaminated hands while saying “there, there,” or directly contacting your hair in any other way, there aren’t too many other ways that your hair can be contaminated with enough of the virus to eventually get you sick. Try to avoid touching your hair if your hands may be contaminated. If your hair is out of place, don’t try to fix it with your filthy paws. Instead, hum a Panic! At The Disco song so that people simply think that you are trying to be emo.

So as long you don’t let these things happen and maintain a six foot or more distance from others, your hair is probably safe. Even if a pandemic weren’t occurring, it may not be a good idea to let someone cough, sneeze, or pant into your hair or stroke it while saying “there, there.” Even if your hair has grown so out of control that it looks like a satellite dish, it’s not likely that it is catching and collecting large amounts of the virus from the air.

If your hair does come too close to someone who could be contagious or contact an object that may be contaminated, don’t spray your hair with hand sanitizer or disinfectants like Lysol. That’s neither a good nor a sarcastic idea. Instead, to be safe, avoid touching your hair until you can wash it properly with shampoo. Touching contaminated hair and then touching your face could transfer the virus to your face, which no one besides the virus want. Like you do with your hands, wash your hair thoroughly and long enough. If you think that singing Happy Birthday while in the shower is weird, try singing the Tom Jones song “Sexbomb” instead. This should ensure that you are shampooing your hair for at least 20 seconds, as long as you get through the part that says “and baby you can turn me on” at the end of the first chorus.



Right now, it’s still not a good idea to go to a barbershop or a hair salon for a haircut, even if they are open. Unless the barber or stylist is using something that looks like a weed whacker to cut your hair, it is difficult for the person to stay at least six feet away from you. A barber throwing clippers and scissors at your head from a distance is a bad idea too.

Moreover, can you really be sure that combs, brushes, and other items that may touch your face are being adequately disinfected between customers? How do you know that your barber or stylist is not infected and happens to have no symptoms? If the barber or stylist wears a mask properly, it could cut down transmission of the virus somewhat. However, transmission could occur, and that person could contaminate anything that he or she touches as well.

As long as the COVID-19 coronavirus is still actively spreading in a community, it could be difficult to prevent its transmission in a barber shop or hair salon unless barbers and stylists can wear a mask and gloves and somehow maintain enough distance from you and keep everything disinfected frequently. That’s another reason why widespread testing and determining where the virus is spreading is so important. That’s also why getting a better sense of whether you have already been infected by the virus and are now recovered and immune to getting another infection will be vital. It’s still not yet clear whether a previous infection actually confers immunity. More scientific studies are needed.

Sure, going an extended period of time without a haircut may feel unusual or even uncomfortable. Yes, trying to cut your own hair can be, um, challenging:

Getting someone else not skilled at cutting your hair may not work so well either, even if that person is Captain America:

Nevertheless, there are worse things in the world than a bad hair day or a bad hair week or bad hair months. These are different times from before that call for flexibility and adaptation. This could be an opportunity to experiment, to try new new things. Heck, maybe you could even find a new hairstyle that will stick. An hair apparent, so to speak.