Answering 5 common haircut questions: Is it safe? Can COVID-19 survive on hair?

Dr. McGeorge answers 5 viewer questions about haircuts resuming in Michigan

Many people around Michigan are excited to get their hair cut again, but they’re also uneasy due to the dangers of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

DETROIT – Many people around Michigan are excited to get their hair cut again, but they’re also uneasy due to the dangers of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

READ: Here’s everything that’s reopening today in Michigan after COVID-19 shutdown

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer allowed salons, barbershops and spas to reopen Monday (June 15) across the state, and Local 4 viewers have been sending in questions about how to approach personal care services safely.

Local 4′s Dr. Frank McGeorge answered five of the most common questions below.

General safety

The most common question was simple: Is it safe to get a haircut?

“It’s safe to get a haircut as long as everyone continues to follow safe practices,” McGeorge said. “Now, obviously, it’s impossible to distance yourself from the person cutting your hair, but you should be separated from other patrons or stylists, and because distancing is impossible, masks should be worn and both staff and customers should stay home if they have any symptoms.”

High-risk patients

Some viewers asked about advice specifically for people who are at a high risk of becoming infected with the coronavirus.

“People in high-risk groups don’t need to be afraid to go out in public or get their haircuts, but they should be extra mindful of precautions to reduce the spread of infection,” McGeorge said. “In the end, everyone needs to feel comfortable with the inherent risks to close contact situations.”

Can COVID-19 survive on hair?

Local 4 received several related questions about COVID-19 surviving on hair, such as: Can it survive on hair at all? If so, for how long? Should you wash your hair when you get home?

“It is probable that SARS-CoV-2 can survive at least a short while on hair, but honestly, there is no good information about how long,” McGeorge said. “Personally, when I come home after workin in the emergency room, even though I actually wear a surgical cap, I wash my hair about two-thirds of the time. But remember, the ER is a much higher exposure environment full of sick people, compared to a salon, where everyone is more likely to be healthy.”

Safety measures

Some people asked what safety measures they should look for at their salons.

“Waiting areas should have limited numbers of people, or people should be waiting in their cars,” McGeorge said. “Everyone should be spaced appropriately apart. Ventilation is important. The air should be fresh and flowing. Temperature checks and system questions are important, and finally, watch for frequent hand washing and mask use among the employees."

MORE: 5 differences you’ll notice when you visit Michigan salons, barbershops and spas

Reducing risk

Many viewers simply asked if there’s anything else they can do to further reduce the risk of infection.

“The safest thing is really just to stay home, but obviously, that’s not practical,” McGeorge said. “Realistically, until we have a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19, everyone should simply limit their close contact activities as much as possible Get your hair and nails done -- just consider doing it less often.”

Infectious disease experts said because these services involve close contact for an extended period of time, they will be one of the higher risk interactions. Safety measures can reduce that risk, but they can’t eliminate it entirely.

About the Authors:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.