Ask A Doctor: Is It Safe To Get A Haircut, And Other Questions Answered

A UT Health San Antonio physician answers listeners’ questions about their health during the coronavirus pandemic.

By Michael MarksMay 7, 2020 11:43 am,

In this week’s installment of Ask a Doctor, UT Health San Antonio physician Fred Campbell answers Texas Standard listeners’ most pressing questions about the coronavirus.

How do you convince someone about the risks of COVID-19 if they don’t believe they’ll get sick and aren’t taking safety precautions like social distancing?

The risk is real. COVID-19 has infected over 1 million people and killed thousands in the United States alone. In light of that, Campbell said all Americans “must consider the consequences of their behavior.”

Can zinc supplements boost your immune system to make your body less susceptible to the coronavirus?

There have been many unsubstantiated claims of coronavirus “cures” since the pandemic started, which can endanger the lives of people who take those claims seriously. Campbell said zinc supplements haven’t been tested to see if they help fight off a new coronavirus infection, so taking one could give someone a “false sense of security.”

Can more testing help decrease the number of new COVID-19 cases as Texas continues to reopen its economy?

The United States does not yet have a robust testing plan in place. Campbell said effective testing might mean every American would be tested each week until there is a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19. Until then, gatherings endanger public health. What’s more, the behaviors that keep people apart, like social distancing, have been shown to be the most effective at slowing the spread of the virus, in the absence of good testing or treatment.

When is someone without symptoms, who tested positive for COVID-19, no longer contagious?

After a 14-day quarantine, that person should no longer be contagious.

How important is individual behavior versus government intervention when it comes to slowing the spread of the coronavirus?

It’s a mix. When people practice social distancing, that helps flatten the curve – in other words, it slows how quickly the virus spreads. But when the government removes restrictions, individual behavior starts to change back toward activities that could put their health, and public health, at risk. Campbell said that with fewer restrictions, Texas faces another spike in COVID-19 cases.

Is it safe to get a haircut once restrictions on salons and barbershops are lifted?

Until a vaccine or treatment is available, getting a haircut is risky. Regular testing could help customers make an informed decision about when and where to get their hair cut, but Campbell says “we are far from that at the present time.”

Web story by Caroline Covington.

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