Does baby shampoo help to treat Covid-19? No science backs this up, experts say

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
  • Experts say that there is no scientific basis for the ACDP's claim that baby shampoo can help to treat Covid-19.
  • They warn that following the party's advice lead to harmful health consequences.
  • Measures like physical distancing, handwashing and mask-wearing are more effective, they advise.

An African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) post on Twitter recently claimed that a drop of Johnson & Johnson's No More Tears baby shampoo in a warm saline nasal rinse will help to break down the fatty exterior of SARS-CoV-2 - the virus that causes Covid-19.

The political party was responding to a tweet from journalist Oliver Meth.

Experts, however, warn that the claims are not based on any evidence.

A dangerous claim

Health24 spoke to two experts about the recommendation: Professor Francois Venter, the deputy executive director at the Wits Reproductive Health Institute and a lecturer at Wits' Department of Medicine, and Professor Eric Decloedt from Stellenbosch University's Division of Clinical Pharmacology.

Venter explains that transmission of the virus does not occur in the nostrils or throat, but in the lungs. A nasal saline treatment will not help to prevent the virus from entering the body.

He also says there is no clinical evidence that the shampoo can be used as a treatment.

"We have no drugs at the moment that stop movement of the virus from the air into your airways and into your lungs. We have nothing to offer. At the moment, there's nothing else, home remedy or otherwise, which we can use in this situation."

Decloedt says that the practice should strongly be discouraged because there is no evidence that it works.

"The use of J&J No More Tears baby shampoo diluted in a warm saline nasal rinse to prevent Covid-19 has zero evidence base. It should not be used to prevent Covid and this practice should strongly be discouraged. Physical distancing, keeping your social circle to the same small group of core people, hand washing and the wearing of masks are the best preventative measures for Covid-19," Decloedt says.

Harmful consequences

The use of untested chemicals in the nostrils or and other body parts comes with great consequences, the experts warn.

Venter says the product hasn't been tested as a Covid-19 prevention measure or treatment option, and adds that it can cause damage and inflammation, or irritation and severe damage.

Decloedt warns that using the baby shampoo can have serious consequences.

"Normal saline (without shampoo) nasal rinse can be used to relieve a stuffy blocked nose for symptomatic relief. However, it cannot prevent Covid-19 infection. J&J No More Tears baby shampoo should not be taken nasally; it is a product for external use. Shampoo has been manufactured to clean hair, not to be inhaled via your nose.

"It contains cationic surfactants which, if a large enough dose is applied to the nose, could cause burning and irritation of the nasal mucosa. If ingested, it can cause irritation of the stomach with abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea," Decloedt explains. 

READ| What we know about the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine which healthcare workers will soon receive

READ| Study finds smoking linked to increased risk of Covid-19 symptoms

READ| Covid-19 vaccines: Single jab of current two-dose regimens may offer greater population benefit

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
The ANC's leadership race is heating up. Who do you think will be elected party president at Nasrec in December?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has got it in the bag
6% - 256 votes
I foresee a second term for Cyril Ramaphosa
82% - 3306 votes
Don’t discount a Zweli Mkhize win
12% - 490 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.