As the medical community races to find a cure for novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, people are taking to the internet to share their own ill-advised home remedies. From drinking water every 15 minutes to snorting cocaine, the myths range from the absurd to the truly dangerous. But the latest rumor is something we never expected to read: Blasting your nose and mouth with the hot air from a hair dryer will cure the virus.
This theory became widely circulated following a YouTube and Facebook video — that have both since been removed after The New York Times pointed them out — that claimed that breathing in hot air from a sauna or blow dryer could kill the coronavirus. People stormed to social media platforms, including TikTok and Twitter, to either test out or share this claim.
My mother is convinced that a hair dryer can cure Coronavirus
— Liz (@liz_lecaroz) March 20, 2020
There’s a video going around on WhatsApp detailing how to increase the temperature in your Nasal Cavity in order to kill Coronavirus, using a handheld hair dryer…
I suspect it might be best to discuss with your doctor before trying that one.
— Black_Saint 🇦🇬 (@ColinJohn_) March 16, 2020
But is there any truth to this cure? Straightforwardly, no. While there have been reports of heat killing the virus, that’s in reference to the extreme heat used by medical professionals to clean their tools (not something you’d find in your average Conair or from the weather outside).
In fact, this specific theory actually puts you more in danger as it could cause serious complications. “You could easily burn or more likely cause superficial damage to your eye, nose, and mouth lining by trying to breath in hot air, which promptly damages your first line of defense against infection — an intact lining,” says Jill Grimes, MD, urgent care physician and author of The ULTIMATE College Health Handbook .
By damaging these parts of your body, you are actually making yourself more vulnerable to exposure. “Dry, irritated eyes, nasal passages, and mouth make you more susceptible to any respiratory infection because of that lost barrier,” Dr. Grimes adds.
Impaired respiratory systems, especially for those with medical conditions like asthma, put you at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19, as stated by the CDC Foundation. It’s also important to remember that while there is currently testing for antiviral medications, there is no specific treatment for COVID-19 currently available, which has also been confirmed by the CDC.
The harm doesn’t end there. By breathing in air at high temperatures through your nose, you can also damage your skin. “The hot air can lead to potentially serious burns,” warns dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD. “I absolutely do not recommend breathing in hot air from your blow dryer.”
If you are not infected, but fear breathing in the virus, there are ways to prevent the illness without inflicting harm. “The best thing is social distancing and keeping yourself away from large crowds where you may breathe in or catch the virus,” says Dr. Purvi Parikh, allergy & infectious disease doctor and allergist with the Allergy & Asthma Network. “Those prone to allergies or asthma should continue their controller nasal and respiratory medications so that they are protected from more serious complications of the illness as it does target the lungs.”
As rumors continue to circulate on how to beat or prevent the virus, it’s crucial to seek out qualified medical experts for questions or concerns while following the recommendations from the CDC. If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, you should only follow the instructions given to you by medical examiners upon diagnosis — and breathing in hot air from your blow dryer is not one of them.
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