“You are going to catch a cold if you go outside with wet hair.” You probably heard this warning several times from your mother or grandmother, but when we’re young, we don’t really pay much attention to the elders’ advice. You take a quick shower, you’re in a hurry to go to work or meet with some friends, and you don’t have the time to dry your hair. But then you actually catch a cold and you begin to wonder if the saying is actually true. This is how this old wives’ tale stays with many of us for years and years.
So, can you really catch a cold just by going outside with wet hair? The answer is NO. You won’t catch a cold because you didn’t dry your hair, and you won’t catch a cold because you forgot your coat or didn’t want the extra weight on you – but beware, as both situations are bound to leave you feeling a little chilly and uncomfortable.
However, you won’t get sick because of this. To catch a cold you need to be exposed to the cold virus, of which there are more than 200 variations. The rhinovirus is the biggest culprit, according to a 2015 study by the Yale University. This virus is more bound to replicate in the cooler environment of the nasal cavity than in the warmer lungs. Cold temperatures are also more susceptible for the replication of these viruses.
But the problem isn’t the wet hair, as the cold virus is already in many places, especially during Autumn and Winter. Enclosed spaces are places where you can catch a cold easily, as someone sneezing or coughing with properly covering his or her mouth and nose will release droplets into the air, containing the cold virus. This virus also lives in places such as sinks, tables, counters, and others, meaning that simply touching a contaminated object and putting your hands over your nose or mouth is enough to catch the virus.
Young children are especially prone to the cold virus, as they have to spend a lot of their time inside at school, in closed quarters, and if one of them is sick, there are high chances that many other kids will catch the cold virus as well, not to mention all the other germs.
There is absolutely no problem with going outside without drying your hair. You can even do so during Winter, as this isn’t what will get you sick; it is not the low temperature, but the lack of humidity that will make you more susceptible of catching a cold. The mucus lining of your nasal passages will dry, making it easier for viruses to enter and affect your immune system.
Don’t worry about the blow dryer the next time that you’re in a hurry; the odds that you’ll catch a cold with wet hair are exactly the same as with dry hair.