Swishing with mouthwash can help freshen that mask breath, and, new research suggests, reduce the amount of coronavirus in the mouth and may help reduce the spread of the virus.
Physicians and scientists at the Penn State College of Medicine studied the effect of rinsing with a neti pot, peroxide sore-mouth cleansers, mouthwashes and a 1 percent solution of baby shampoo, which is often used by head and neck doctors to rinse the sinuses. All of the products are currently available to consumers, many over-the-counter.
They found several of the nasal and oral rinses had “a strong ability to neutralize human coronavirus, which suggests that these products may have the potential to reduce the amount of virus spread by people who are COVID-19 positive,” the college said in a written statement.
Researchers used human coronaviruses that are similar to SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus strain that causes COVID-19. The “outer envelopes of the human coronavirus tested and SARS-CoV-2 are genetically similar,” the researchers stated.
“While we wait for a vaccine to be developed, methods to reduce transmission are needed,” said Craig Meyers, the professor who led the study. “The products we tested are readily available and often already part of people’s daily routines.”
The study looked at the effectiveness of the various products when they interact with a solution containing a strain of human coronavirus at intervals of 30 seconds, one minute and two minutes.
The 1 percent baby shampoo solution inactivated more than 99.9 percent of the human coronavirus after being in contact for two minutes. The mouthwash and gargle products were also 99.9 percent effective in inactivating the human coronavirus, but after only 30 seconds of contact.
The findings from Penn State College of Medicine add to findings earlier this year that showed certain types of oral rinses could inactivate SARS-CoV-2.
Meyers said the next step in this line of research is to evaluate products like mouthwashes in COVID-19 positive patients to see if they reduce the viral load.
The study’s results were published this week in the Journal of Medical Virology.