Can you catch a cold from going outside with wet hair?

Can you catch a cold from going outside with wet hair?

With temperatures quickly dropping and winter’s arrival, the “Don’t go outside with wet hair – you’re going to catch a cold!” season is here, too.

This “mom-ism” has been passed on from one generation to the next and has created the circulating idea that if you are exposed to low temperatures with wet hair, you will catch a cold. But is there any truth to it?

Luckily, the answer is no.

Skipping the blow dryer before going out into the cold will not cause you to catch a cold. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, a cold virus spreads through tiny air droplets that are released by a sick person who sneezes, coughs or blows their nose – not from being out in the cold with wet hair.

“Of course, if you’re already sick, feeling cold certainly doesn’t make you feel any better,” says Dr. Hilary Norton, from the Advocate BroMenn Family Health Clinic in Normal, Ill.

“But being cold, and by extension, having wet hair, does not make it any more likely that you’ll catch the common cold.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Dr. Norton say some of the best ways to avoid catching the common cold include:

  • Washing your hands regularly, for 20 seconds with soap and warm water
  • Using hand sanitizer
  • Not touching your mouth and eyes. This prevents microbes on your hands that cause the common cold from getting into your body through unprotected eyes and mouth
  • Covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing to prevent the spread of germs

“Unfortunately, because the common cold is caused by a virus, it can’t be treated with antibiotics, which can be frustrating for patients,” says Dr. Norton. “If you do catch a cold, staying well hydrated, controlling sinus drainage with over-the-counter decongestants and managing any fevers with Tylenol or other NSAIDs are the best things patients can do.”

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One Comment

  1. this is a wrong advice.
    When the water is put into a cold environment, it will get cold. If it is freezing outside, it will freeze.
    So if you have ice on your head, you will catch cold.
    Many a time doctor tell, cold is an allergy. It may be by definition. But many a time cold is caused by big temperature swings.
    If you do not believe, try it. Have a wet hair and go out when the temp is below zero. And stay out for half an hour. If you don’t catch cold, report back.

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About the Author

Danielle Sisco
Danielle Sisco

Danielle Sisco, Health enews contributor, is a public affairs and marketing intern at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill. She is a Senior at Illinois State University, and will be graduating in December 2017 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations and Business Administration. In her free time, Danielle enjoys going to country music concerts, coaching and playing volleyball, and spending quality time with her family, friends, and puppy.

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