Your mom may have warned you that going outside with wet hair will make you sick. But is this just a superstition or can damp hair outdoors make you ill?
Sorry, mom, but the short answer is no.
Wet hair in a cold environment can make you feel cold and uncomfortable. But it will not give you a cold.
Viruses transmitted through bodily fluids cause colds, influenza and COVID-19. You need to come into contact with the fluids to be infected by the viruses. This usually happens when people who are sick sneeze, cough or blow their noses.
Wet hair won’t make you more attractive to viruses and doesn’t increase your chances of getting sick.
Follow these six tips to protect you and your family from catching a cold:
1. Wash your hands.
Clean your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
2. Disinfect your stuff.
Clean kitchen and bathroom countertops with disinfectant, especially when someone in your household has a cold.
3. Use tissues.
Sneeze and cough into tissues. Discard used tissues right away and then thoroughly wash your hands.
4. Don’t share.
This is one time that it’s best to keep to yourself. Don’t share drinking glasses or utensils with other family members. Use your own glass or disposable cups when you or someone else is sick. Label the cup or glass with the name of the person with the cold.
5. Steer clear of people who are sick.
Practice social distancing by avoiding close contact with anyone who has a cold.
6. Take care of yourself.
Eat well, exercise, get enough sleep and manage stress levels to keep illness at bay.
You can rest assured that if you go outside with wet hair you don’t have an increased chance of getting sick. Wet hair in the colder months just causes temporary discomfort.
Carmen Dargel, M.D., is a physician in Family Medicine in Onalaska, Wisconsin.