I don’t know about you, but growing up I was constantly berated for stepping out of the house with wet hair. My mother and my nonna (who lived next door) would often tell me off about it; warning that I would catch a cold as a result of my sodden locks.
Never quite convinced they spoke the truth, I continued with the habit and to this day, I rarely touch a hairdryer. Sorry, ma! Apologies, nonna!
Theories about the dangers of wet hair have long been a part of our social consciousness, but popularity does not a sound theory make. So, I decided to use this week’s Ask Lifehacker piece as an opportunity to explore the concept further.
Does wet hair put you at risk of catching a cold?
The common folk story is one that has been addressed many times before, and there have been a number of studies on it.
As the BBC writes, research in Germany and Argentina has indicated that colds are more common in winter months but on the other hand, warmer countries often find that folks are more likely to come down with the common cold during the rainy season.
Some postulate that this suggests cold and wet conditions (kind of like what your wet hair would produce) make people more susceptible to catching a cold. However, as the BBC continued in its write up, rainy and cold weather also tends to encourage people to stay indoors, all cozied up with other people – who may or may not be carrying viral germs.
Doctors are not convinced wet hair will get you sick
Physician Anita Skariah spoke with Bustle about this in a recent article and stated that:
“You cannot catch a cold or the flu simply from going out with wet hair during winter.”
“What puts you at risk is exposure to germs… Touching surfaces that may have virus-causing germs, and then touching your mouth, or nose transfers the germs into your system,” she explained.
There have been some contradictory studies, however
Jumping back to the BBC, the outlet referenced a study completed by Ron Eccles, director of the Common Cold Centre in the UK. Half of the volunteers for the study kept their feet in cold water for 20 minutes while the other half popped their feet in empty buckets – shoes and socks on.
Apparently, twice as many volunteers from the cold-water group had come down with a cold five days after the experiment. Though, the study shared that “The subjects who reported that they developed a cold reported that they suffered from significantly more colds each year compared to those subjects who did not develop a cold”.
Long story, short. There is a small chance cold, wet hair may have some impact on your health. But medical professionals and seasoned wearers of wet hair are staunch believers that there is no validity in that claim. So, I don’t plan on changing my habits anytime soon.