Wet Hair, Should I Care?

wet hair

As a little girl, my mother never allowed me out of the house with wet hair when it was cold outside, for she was convinced I was going to get sick.  It has since become common sense to not go outside with wet hair, to prevent such an event.  But I couldn’t help but wonder, is this actually true, or just fallacy?  I decided to further investigate.

Colds are caused by virus, not by cold air, further encouraging me to doubt the validity of the statement that wet hair makes you sick.  According to <a href=”http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20306931_5,00.html”> Health.com </a> “[U]nless you are so cold that you get hypothermia, which could make you susceptible to infection, wet hair or clothes won’t increase your vulnerability.”  This statement persuades me that unless I am in Antarctic-like conditions (or sometimes even in Penn State like conditions)  simply having wet/damp hair will not cause one to become ill.

This myth has intrigued many scientists as well, in turn prompting the conduction of many experiments.  By putting the viruses contained in the common cold in the noses of two groups of people (one exposed to wet conditions, one being the control group), scientists were then able to see that there is in fact not a correlation between being wet and being more likely to become sick.  After all, correlation does not necessarily mean causation.  It is necessary to question the size of the two groups in this experiment, the wet conditions they were exposed to, and the degree of ethical guidelines followed when considering the validity of this experiment.

So was mother’s intuition right?  It is reasonable to say it is better to be safe than sorry, but there is not much need to be overly concerned of going out into the cold with wet hair.  Yes, it is possible there will be a little more discomfort and one may feel a little bit colder, but it is unlikely wet hair will be the main factor in causing you to become ill.

“A Wet Head Can Make You Sick.” – Most Common Myths About the Common Cold. Health, n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2014.

Gelman, Lauren, and Megan Othersen Gormanprevention. “Cold and Flu Old Wives’ Tales, Debunked.” ABC News. ABC News Network, 06 Nov. 2011. Web. 21 Oct. 2014.



6 thoughts on “Wet Hair, Should I Care?

  1. Caitlin Marie Gailey

    I am surprised by your findings! I was seriously convinced that going out in the cold with wet hair will leave you at a higher risk to get sick. I am comforted to know this isn’t necessarily the case but when it is cold enough that my hair can freeze with the residual water on it I don’t think I will risk it. One thing I thought about when reading your post is how much a female issue this is. In general males have such short hair that it can dry relatively quickly or they can solve the problem by covering their head with a hat. In the case of females, or at least in my experience, it can take hours for my hair to fully dry. So in that sense I think going out with damp hair isn’t necessarily dangerous, however going out with drips still descending down my back doesn’t seem like the best choice.

    Here is an interesting link I found that related even more to this topic.

  2. Jacklyn Nicole Hucke

    My mother was the same way when I was a child. Going outside with wet hair was not an option. I’m surprised to see that wet air doesn’t cause a cold because I was told that it did all my life! Ron Eccles, director of the Common Cold Centre in Cardiff, UK conducted an experiment to prove this. Eccles made half of his volunteers sit with their feet in a bowl of cold water for 20 minutes and the other half keep their feet in a bowl with nothing in it for 20 minutes. They all still the same symptoms of a cold after they mingled with people who were ill, but four to five days later twice as many people who had their feet in the cold water said they developed a cold. Interesting, huh?


  3. Asia Grant

    I wrote a similar blog to yours where I explore whether or not cold weather can give someone a cold. You also commented on that blog about whether or not cold weather affects one’s chances of contracting an illness. I still think the link that I sent you would be relevant to your search endeavors, so I will provide it for you again.

    As I stated before…

    In this BBC Article, Scientists had set up experiments under laboratory conditions where they lower the temperatures of volunteers and deliberately expose them to a cold virus. But overall the studies have been inconclusive. Some studies found the chilly group were more likely to succumb to a cold, others found they were not. I found a study conducts to evaluate the acute cooling of the feet and the onset of common cold symptoms.

    So if I were you, I wouldn’t completely rule out having wet hair as a factor because findings have not been conclusive. I would do more research, and not risk anything by going outside with wet hair in the upcoming months.

  4. Weng Ee Then

    My mom use to say the exact same thing, and it made sense until you proved it wrong! This made me think of something else my mom said which was that tying up wet hair was bad for you because it caused headaches. This has always been a fear of mine because headaches are my kryptonite so I decided to research this. Turns out tying up wet hair doesn’t seem to have any links with headaches, however it does cause hair to become weak. So really my mom was warning me for the wrong reasons. Here’s a link below to check out for the do’s and don’ts when it comes to hair:


  5. Christopher Vecchio

    Even as a guy my mom used to say the same thing to me. Especially after basketball games coming out of the gym all sweaty she always said make sure your coat is on before we go out so you don’t get sick. This post makes a lot of sense now. When we were little we always thought everything our parents told us were right but now that we are old enough we can do some research and prove them wrong sometimes. Here is another interesting article on this topic http://www.mnn.com/health/fitness-well-being/stories/can-you-catch-a-cold-from-going-outside-with-wet-hair.

  6. Charlotte Moriarty

    I was unaware of this before reading your blog. I always thought that cold weather gave you colds..it sounds like it makes sense at least?! Then why do people get the most sick in winter times? One reason could be that people tend to stay indoors during the winter so people associate dry air with central heating for making it easier for cold and flu viruses to spread. I personally have had a cold for about a month now..longer than I ever did at home. Apparently dorm room settings increase the likeliness to get a cold! (great…) A study at health line shows that researchers at Tianjin University in China found more colds in dorm rooms with poor ventilation.

Leave a Reply