Do I get more cold if I go out with wet hair?

My mom always tells me to dry my hair before I run out into the cold in the morning, because otherwise I'll get sick. Why would I be more likely…

My mom always tells me to dry my hair before I run out into the cold in the morning, because otherwise I’ll get sick. Why would I be more likely to get sick from viruses and bacteria if my hair is wet?

We usually associate colds with winter, and most people catch colds when the weather is cold between September and April.

When we leave the house with wet hair, the heat loss from the head increases because the body tries to let the wetness evaporate. As a result, the body cools down and we feel cold.

Mucous membranes more sensitive

Some studies suggest that we tend to avoid viral infections when we get cold.

The hypothesis is that the cold causes the mucous membranes in the upper part of the trachea to shrink, which then leads to the mucous membranes becoming more vulnerable to infections, and the immune system works more sluggishly when the body temperature drops.

Three factors determine whether we catch a cold

The age:

Children are most prone to colds because their immune systems have not yet been able to cope with the most common cold viruses. Old people with impaired health are also prone to colds.


In winter, we live more closely together with others indoors. As a result, infection spreads more easily, for example in schools.

Indoor air:

If the air is dry, for example caused by air conditioning, the cold virus can travel a longer distance through the air and, as a result, infect more people.

Colds are extremely common and also highly contagious. Adults tend to get colds two to five times a year, but children even six to ten times.

Each person with a cold manages to infect six others on average. In winter, we stay closer to each other indoors, and the more than 200 different cold viruses that exist get first-class conditions to spread.

Three weapons against colds

Three types of protection in the mouth, nose and mucous membranes in the upper part of the trachea provide effective protection against colds.

1. Mucus and bifurcation brake virus

Mucus and cuticles make it difficult for viruses to approach the cells of the mucous membrane. The mucus is released from glands in the mucous membrane.

The mucus layer tends to dry up and shrink if the air is dry.

2. Cells warn

A warning device in the form of receptors on the surface of the cells is activated by the virus and calls for help from the immune system.

The warning system does not work in children because the immune system has so little experience.

3. Weapons against virus

Chemical weapons such as enzymes, toxins and messengers are released from the cells and render the virus harmless.

The chemical weapons of the defense system are reduced if we get cold.

Scientists also believe that the cold virus weakens the immune response of the cells themselves. In 2015, biologists from Yale University showed that the body’s warning system works worse at lower temperatures.

A cell that has been attacked by a cold virus usually alerts its uninfected neighboring cells, which then prepare their defenses, but when the temperature drops, the neighboring cells are not activated to the same extent.

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