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Heating your skin will not kill the coronavirus—and it could burn you

CLAIM: Applying heat to your skin or throat kills the virus that causes COVID-19.

FALSE. Temperatures hot enough to destroy the virus would cause a serious burn. Washing your hands frequently and cleaning surfaces properly are much more effective ways to avoid getting COVID-19.

Hair dryers and hot baths do not kill the coronavirus.

There is no safe way to use heat to destroy coronaviruses on your skin or inside your body.

  • Coronaviruses are viable at body temperature, even if you have a fever.
  • The temperatures required to destroy viruses are too hot for your skin to handle. Using a hair dryer or hand dryer will not work.
  • Drinking hot water or taking a hot bath will not prevent you from getting COVID-19 or destroy the virus if you are already sick.



Heat and UV light can harm viruses—but they also harm people.

High temperatures and ultraviolet (UV) light can be used to disinfect objects and surfaces. But they’re not safe for people.

  • Research so far has found that the novel coronavirus is destroyed after 5 minutes at 158 degrees Fahrenheit (70°C). Studies found similar results for the related virus that causes SARS.
  • Some forms of UV light can damage virus’ genetic material. However, it also damages the genetic material inside human cells. While UV light can disinfect objects, it’s not safe to use on people.
  • The type and amount of UV light you get from being outside on a sunny day cannot kill coronaviruses on your skin. But it can give you a sunburn, so wear sunscreen!



Washing your hands and cleaning surfaces are more effective ways to protect yourself.

Washing with soap and water dissolves the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects reduces the chance that you will come into contact with any viruses that may have landed on a surface.

Published on: April 15, 2020